Gas company project a bump in the road in Baldwin Borough
By Stephanie Hacke
Published: Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 9:10 p.m.
The smooth black asphalt lined the once bumpy, pothole-ridden street.
Baldwin residents for the first time in years saw an overhaul of Willett Road, thanks to the borough's 2011 road improvement program that included the paving of the street in the northern part of the borough.
Yet, within a year, the road already was being dug up, as Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania began to replace pipelines underneath the road.
“The timing of that job couldn't have been worse,” council Vice President Michael Stelmasczyk told gas company representatives at Tuesday's council meeting. “We notified the utilities that were in the area and the next year after we paved it, then you come and dig it up.... That's not fair to our residents.”
Borough officials said this was not the only time this happened and they want to know why the utility does not better coordinate its pipeline improvement efforts with local municipalities, so that local streets are only disrupted one time.
Both sides on Tuesday agreed that they will begin sharing more information about planned projects. Improving communication with local municipalities and reducing duplication of road disruptions by attending local government meetings is a goal of the gas company this year, said company spokeswoman Brynnly Mazzie.
Columbia Gas plans $140 million in infrastructure and modernization projects in Pennsylvania this year, she said. Coordinating those with local municipal paving projects can be difficult, said Dominic Tarella, field engineering leader.
“I'd love to go in when everybody paves their streets in every township that we work in. The problem is, my budget's limited and I have to make choices all of the time,” said Tarella, who currently is working on the gas company's 2014 improvement schedule.
Borough leaders said they would be willing to work with the gas company to adjust their paving schedule, if they were informed of the projects. That was not the case with Willett, they said.
“When you do your list for 2014, if you just tell us what roads you're going to do in Baldwin we'll just stay away from them,” Councilman Bob Collet said.
Baldwin leaders are creating a “more strategic” plan for how they pave their streets and have a rough idea of which roads will be repaired during the next three years, borough Manager John Barrett said.
That is “light years” ahead of other towns, Tarella said, many of which give the gas company a list of roads to be paved just months before the projects.
An ordinance in Baldwin also requires that utility companies that disrupt borough streets repair them from curb-to-curb, something that needs to be done in some cases, Baldwin engineer Larry Souleret said.
Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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