Pangburn Hollow Road erosion has Forward Township residents concerned

| Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 12:31 a.m.

For some living along Pangburn Hollow Road in Forward Township, it seems like a triple whammy hit them.

At the Forward board of supervisors meeting on Monday, residents Maxine Phayer and Jim Williams expressed concern about erosion that began with last year's storms and was aggravated by rains last week.

“When (Allegheny County crews) put the rocks in, they said it would last forever,” Phayer said, pointing to where a retaining wall used to be along Perry Mill Run.

“That guide rail is just hanging there,” former township supervisor Tom Headley said.

The road is supposed to be under Allegheny County maintenance. However, as noted by Tom DeRosa, chairman of the Forward board of supervisors, “It's been bad for 10 years,” long before gas crews started using it.

But County Councilman Bob Macey, D-West Mifflin, said Pangburn Hollow will get an overhaul once other projects are completed.

“It's part of all the infrastructure that has to be completed before we completely rehab the road,” Macey said.

Phayer and Williams are neighbors along a stretch between a Sunoco Logistics pipeline being laid from Houston, Washington County, to Salem Township, Westmoreland County, and EQT's Oliver West drilling pad.

Water regularly fills the basement of Phayer's home from the hillside behind it. A sump pump kicks in every five minutes, sending a healthy stream into Perry Mill Run.

Township Solicitor Matt Racunas told Phayer that it already may be too late to seek out relief for the damage from last year's storms.

Phayer said debris is coming down the hill from EQT's site “and it never did before.”

Headley said erosion is a factor after trees were cleared for the drilling operation.

A stone's throw away, plates form a makeshift one-lane bridge over where the pipeline cuts across Pangburn Hollow.

It is part of what Sunoco calls Project Mariner East, an effort to deliver propane and ethane from Marcellus shale areas in Western Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook facility on the Pennsylvania-Delaware border.

Sunoco Logistics is constructing a pipeline from MarkWest Energy Partners LP's Houston processing complex to an existing interstate pipeline in Salem.

DeRosa said he understood that work in the vicinity of Pangburn Hollow may continue for a month and a half.

Then, Macey said, milling and other work will be done.

“All we're trying to do is provide a methodical approach where (other companies) don't come back and dig into a freshly paved roadway,” said Macey, who chairs the public works committee on County Council. “It is frustrating but in the end we will have a better product.”

Some things have been done.

“You can see on the roadway where the new storm drains are put in,” Macey said. “You don't want to go any further until the other infrastructure is done.”

Trucks involved in the pipeline work have added to the traffic volume of a road used as well by EQT trucks.

EQT has 20-mph signs posted along Pangburn Hollow, but Williams said Sunoco trucks have been going 45 mph.

Police Chief Mark Holtzman said he talked to crew members on Tuesday, explaining the speed limit.

“They were more than happy to comply,” Holtzman said.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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