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Allegheny Township supervisors expected to vote on waterline extension; surveys 'favorable'

| Friday, April 4, 2014, 1:06 a.m.

New Kensington water authority officials believe that the Allegheny Township Supervisors next week will approve a waterline extension project on Melwood Road.

Supervisors Chairwoman Kathy Starr confirmed her board will vote on the project on Wednesday, but she could not say whether it would be approved.

“I can tell you the surveys that have come in have been overwhelmingly favorable,” she said.

Supervisors had to resurvey about 52 people who own 62 targeted properties on Melwood, White Cloud and Smail roads after bids submitted by contractors were higher than expected. That drove up the projected cost to affected residents.

The authority has estimated Allegheny Township residents will pay about $10,800 over the course of 20 years — up from the original estimate of $6,900.

That's on top of a one-time tap-in fee of about $2,350 each.

Supporters of the project last month were encouraged to lobby for the extension among neighbors who had not yet returned their surveys.

Supervisors wanted a majority — at least 51 percent — of affected homeowners to support the extension for supervisors to approve it.

If Allegheny Township supervisors approve the extension next week, the water authority board likely will award the project bid on May 1, according to Jim Matta, the authority's general manager.

The lowest bid of $5.7 million, submitted by S&E Utility Contracting of Harrison City, is nearly $800,000 more than was estimated for the project, which includes replacing waterlines on 27 streets in Arnold, Lower Burrell and New Kensington.

The authority's engineer, Ed Schmitt with Gibson-Thomas Engineering Co., on Thursday recommended eliminating Martin and Sixth avenues in New Kensington from the project to reduce costs. Matta estimated that would save about $600,000.

Schmitt said the lines on those roads could be addressed if they can reduce costs or if the authority can replace the lines in-house. He chose to leave out those streets because they had higher paving costs.

Matta said eliminating those roads from the project would not impact the cost to Allegheny Township residents. Rates for the authority's existing 15,000 customers won't be affected.

The overall project, along with two others to upgrade the filter controls at the H. Burns Smith water treatment plant in New Kensington and clearing waterline rights of way, will be covered by a $6.7 million low-interest loan through the Pennsylvania Infrastructure and Investment Authority.

Authority Solicitor David Regoli said he had prepared an ordinance that would require the targeted Allegheny Township residents to tap into the system. He said it would be submitted to the Allegheny Township Supervisors for review and will need to be approved by them.

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or lhayes@tribweb.com.

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