Norwin School District to shore up hillside behind Hahntown Elementary

| Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

The Norwin School District will spend nearly $280,000 to keep the hill behind Hahntown Elementary School from sliding onto the baseball field.

The board on Monday night voted unanimously to award a $278,465 contract to Tedesco Excavating in White Oak to shore up the hillside behind the school along Entry Road in North Huntingdon.

Jim Garvin of Garvin Engineering in Blairsville, who is designing the project, said the plan is to remove about 10,000 cubic yards of soil and “re-engineer” the hillside.

“The key thing is to get the water out of the ground and put it in a proper draining system,” Garvin told the school board at its agenda meeting last week. “Right now, the hillside is being saturated to the point where the dirt is getting heavy and sliding down.”

Walter Lehman, the district's director of facilities and property services, said school officials began noticing problems with the hillside in 2011.

“We brought in a surveyor and marked the hillside so we could monitor it,” he said. “It only moved a few inches the following year, but last year, we noticed that it had moved at least a foot.”

The baseball field was installed several years ago for the ninth-grade baseball team, but it has been practicing and playing at other fields because of the slide, Lehman said.

Once the soil has been removed from the hillside, a system of perforated pipe will be installed and covered with gravel to create a “french drain” that diverts the combination of ground and rain water that has been saturating the hillside, said Lehman, who noted that the hillside surrounding the school is not a natural land contour.

“That hill was created by ‘mine spoil,'” Lehman said. “Back when they were mining in the area, they would take the material that was excavated and dump it nearby.”

Garvin said once the drainage system is installed, the soil will be replaced and compacted.

The original price tag for the project was about $250,000, but it was increased so piles of gravel can be removed from the site.

“Back several years ago, we had a road up by the stadium that went bad, so we took out all the gravel,” Lehman said. “We felt we might be able to use the material in the future, so rather than discard it, we moved it up to Hahntown. The plan is to spread that gravel on a road leading into the school to make it an accessible path.”

Work is expected to begin in early September and be completed by winter, Garvin said.

Tony LaRussa is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2360.

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