$8 million Duquesne Light facility opens in McKeesport
Duquesne Light officially opened its new McKeesport Service Center.
The utility company celebrated the opening of the $8 million facility in RIDC Riverplace Industrial Center of McKeesport with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, an event attended by company staff, elected officials and others involved with the construction of the 29,000-square-foot center.
“McKeesport has been a good home for Duquesne Light,” utility president Rich Riazzi said, noting the new facility is replacing an outdated service center in the city's residential Tenth Ward.
Riazzi said transportation in and out of the old center along Atlantic Avenue was challenging for staff operating heavy equipment and moving materials.
Duquesne Light senior governmental representative Ken Varhola said without the construction several years ago of a flyover ramp accessing the industrial park at Coursin Street, “It's safe to say we probably wouldn't be in this location today.”
U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, who helped gain funding for the $12 million flyover ramp into the park, said the bridge has spurred development there since its opening in October 2011. Before the ramp over railroad tracks was built, he said, businesses in the park “were prisoners to trains.”
Doyle credited current state Sen. James Brewster, who was mayor of McKeesport while the ramp was in the planning stages, for his efforts in making the park more accessible and marketable.
Brewster said work continues to bring new business to the industrial park, which is on the site of the old U.S. Steel National Tube Works. Brewster said he is courting businesses for the location, adding much of that is done behind the scenes.
He said bringing Duquesne Light to the industrial park was simply “one step in the game plan” for development there.
In addition to the transportation challenges at the old facility, Duquesne Light officials said their company had outgrown the site. Dating to 1928, the site's main headquarters were demolished in 2007 and replaced with office trailers.
Larry Duvall, manager of the McKeesport center, remarked, “It's great to be out of the trailers.”
The new facility has offices, warehouse space and an outdoor area for parking line trucks and storage of utility poles, transformers and other equipment. The center is equipped with fueling stations and a maintenance garage.
About 50 employees work out of the McKeesport service center, which serves the utility company's southern and eastern regions.
The center opened on Monday. Duquesne Light officials aren't sure what will become of the old center in the city's Tenth Ward.
McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said Duquesne Light has been a great partner for the city. In addition to providing excellent service to local electric customers, the mayor said the company recently partnered with the nonprofit KaBOOM! organization to fund the construction of a playground in the city's Highland Grove neighborhood.
Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or firstname.lastname@example.org.