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New obstacles may await proposed Alle-Kiski Valley commuter rail line

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Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

The proposed Alle-Kiski Valley commuter rail line to Pittsburgh may face yet another obstacle: New Kensington's water treatment plant.

David Regoli, solicitor for the Municipal Authority of New Kensington, told the authority board on Thursday that he was invited to a meeting with David Sukala, whose family owns property along the Allegheny River between Lower Burrell and New Kensington.

Regoli said attending the meeting was Robert Ardolino of Urban Innovations, the company that is exploring and evaluating the feasibility of a commuter rail line.

“(Ardolino) wanted to talk with the water authority about a right-of-way on property owned by Sukala that the authority had condemned 20 years ago,” Regoli said.

He said the authority took that action in order to upgrade the treatment plant. Regoli said Ardolino told him that the rail line needed to go through an area of the plant where a retention pond had been built.

According to Regoli, Ardolino said they would try to move the retention pond, which is 150 feet long by 35 feet wide and 15 feet deep, but the line could go over it if necessary.

However, Ed Schmitt, the authority's engineer, wondered whether Ardolino's group had looked at outdated aerial photos of the site, as the retention pond would not be the only obstacle.

“You can do something with that, but we just built a new tank and a building down there last year,” Schmitt said, noting on an aerial photograph of the plant hanging in the authority's office that both would be in line with the retention pond.

Schmitt said the building houses centrifuges used to treat sludge from the plant. He said that when sludge is removed from the water, it is disposed of and the water is sent to the retention pond and eventually released into the Allegheny River. Schmitt said the tank is 30 feet high and contains about 500,000 gallons of water.

Regoli said he can only assume that the Sukalas would know what is down there and advise Global Community Services.

At Regoli's suggestion, Michael R. Forry, president of Global Community Services, sent a letter to the authority asking to have its representatives attend the next authority meeting on Oct. 3.

Forry's letter said Urban Innovations would present the request to conduct the feasibility study for the rail line at no cost to the authority. Also, he said the findings would be presented to the authority at a subsequent meeting.

“Mr. Ardolino said (the commuter rail line) is going to be a ‘no-brainer,' that this is going to be one of the best things to happen for this area,” Regoli said.

According to Regoli, Ardolino said all the funding sources were “on board” with the rail proposal.

“He seemed pretty confident that he is going to make it work,” Regoli said.

Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or tyerace@tribweb.com.

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