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Pleasant Hills residents hear pipeline project details

| Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 2:11 a.m.

Pleasant Hills residents learned about a multi-million dollar Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania pipeline project on Tuesday evening.

Company representatives, engineers and Pleasant Hills officials hosted the discussion at the borough building so that the public could be informed of work expected to begin in late May or early June, weather permitting.

“I think it's very important that we remain transparent with our customers before, during and after the project,” said Columbia Gas communications and community relations specialist Brynnly Schwartz. “(We) recognize that any structure work can be disruptive. Our goal is to be as minimally disruptive as possible, to work one-on-one with every customer to make sure that their questions and concerns are addressed, and to restore the property in the same condition or better than before we found it in accordance to the borough standards.”

The project is a $2.5 million infrastructure investment with approximately 40 percent dedicated to restoration.

Columbia Gas will replace roughly 10,000 feet of pipe that was installed 80 years ago with a more modern plastic pipe.

Work will take place through December and affect 250 customers. Pipeline contractor is M. O'Herron Co.

Streets listed as part of the project include Caryl, Delano, Columbia and Winifren drives, E. Bruceton Road and Old Clairton Boulevard.

Schwartz said the company performed a rigid analysis of the area using the software Optimain, which considers pipeline age, condition, material and other variables. It was determined line replacement would be more efficient than repairs.

Customers will experience a temporary service interruption as they are transferred to the new pipe. The interruptions are planned for the summer so customers will not lose heat in the winter. Work will take place Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., with possible Saturday work.

Council president Dan Soltesz said Columbia Gas has worked well with the borough and its officials, and understands residents may have some issues with the project.

“There are going to be some hardships during the time when they're building,” Soltesz said. “Replacing this infrastructure benefits the borough, especially the service lines from the main line to the houses. It's usually a homeowner's responsibility (to take care of those lines). The fact that they're going to be changing all those lines out, that's a project that can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 (per house), maybe more. They're going to do it for free ... We're going to work with them and make sure our residents are served in the best way possible.”

Construction coordinator Mike Kendra said no work will be done on private property without speaking to the homeowner.

Cards or informational doorknob hang tags will be placed at residences. Property owners will have at least a week from that notice to make arrangements with the gas company to perform work on their land.

Representatives repeatedly said any alterations or damages to an area will be replaced or repaired, such as digging up a yard or sidewalk.

“We aim to be a good neighbor,” Schwartz said.

Resident Judd Gordon of Delano Drive said he heard those claims years ago during a sewer line project, and does not believe it.

“In the past we were treated very ineffectively,” Gordon told the representatives. “I would appreciate you knowing that and respecting that ... There were probably five or six contractors that worked on the sewage situation, and they left a mess. They wrecked trees and did a whole lot of things.”

Meter placement was a concern of several residents, many of whom have meters at the back of their houses.

“We strive for the side of the house,” gas company construction specialist John Lamb said of new meter placement. “There are certain codes we have to follow.”

Columbia Gas field engineering leader Dominic Tarella explained current lines connecting to the rears of structures will be abandoned, and new lines will run toward the front of properties because of safety concerns. The main lines will be installed along public rights-of-way.

Tarella said some properties have a shed or above-ground pool over the gas lines in the backyards.

“There's no real solid way for us to check and make sure that gas line underneath your shed or pool or those situations is leaking,” Tarella said. “That's a very big safety concern for us right now. If we pull it to the front, the roadway and public right-of-way protects us so that nothing gets built over top except for some trees ... We're fully aware that our meters are not the prettiest things on the planet.”

Attendees received information packets about the project, and spoke with various officials.

Residents were reminded all gas company employees and contractors carry identification cards with their name, photograph and ID number. Residents were encouraged to ask for ID when approached by people claiming to be workers.

Additional packets about the project are available at the borough building.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or

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