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Sewerage work could delay Harrison City-Export Road project

| Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

State and local officials say they hope the unexpected rerouting of a sewage line this summer won't back up the scheduled mid-September completion of work on Harrison City-Export Road.

Though the worst-case scenario would be a delay of a month or so, officials still are aiming for the reconstruction of the road to wrap up in three months, Westmoreland County Engineer Henry Fitz said on Tuesday.

“We're all trying to work together,” Fitz said. “It's to everyone's benefit, and we definitely don't want to delay completion because we know how important that road is down there.”

Harrison City-Export Road has been closed to through traffic at its intersection with Route 130 since late January for a $2.1-million project to realign and widen the road to add a turning lane and eliminate a dangerous “S” curve and to build a new bridge over an unnamed Bushy Run tributary.

Another section of the sewage line was moved last fall, but officials involved with the project recently determined that another part of the line had to be rerouted because there wasn't enough room to install the planned shoring near the bridge abutment.

Over the past few weeks, representatives from the county, state, sewage authority and the contractor have been meeting to pin down the cost of the relocation and to acquire updated permits and revised easements so construction of a new bridge may resume. Related work on the sidewalks, curbing and traffic signals has continued as scheduled, Fitz said.

The sewage authority and county have agreed to split the costs associated with the relocation of the line, with the authority's board members voting June 10 to spend up to $30,000. However, authority and county officials are continuing to try to find ways to lower the cost of the work, Fitz said.

Some of the complication simply is related to the nature of the project, according to state Rep. George Dunbar (R-Penn Township). Though Harrison City-Export Road is county-owned, the state is providing management because federal funding is involved, he said.

“I know it's a pain right now with the road being closed, but I think when it's open, everybody will be real happy,” Dunbar said.

Publicly, no governmental entity is pointing fingers at anyone for the hiccup.

“This has been a completely positive, cooperative effort between the county, the sewage (authority) and PennDOT,” said Pat Richter, a construction services engineer for PennDOT.

That's little consolation at this point to a business owner such as Pati Livengood, who has a photography studio in her Harrison City-Export Road home near the work area.

She said she's “beyond frustrated” with the project, which included temporary closures of the road last fall because of the relocation of the other part of the sewage line, a broken water pipe and the moving of utility infrastructure by electric and cable companies.

Livengood estimates her business is down by about 30 percent, and she's coming into her busiest time, when students are using their summer months to take their senior portraits.

Two weeks ago, only three students came in to her studio. The usual flow is nine students in a week.

“People aren't coming here because these kids can't find us.”

Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at cforeman@tribweb.com.

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