Pipeline improvement project puts Pleasant Hills residents on edge

| Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 7:18 p.m.

Three neighbors from Delano Drive led the discussion after Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania officials explained summer plans to replace gas lines and move meters in Pleasant Hills Borough.

A public meeting was held last week for residents' questions. About 100 of those affected by the $2.5 million pipeline improvement project filled the community room. Those who live on East Bruceton, Old Clairton Boulevard and Carly, Delano, National, Columbia and Winifred drives all had been notified about the meeting by mail.

Gil Fitzsimmons of Delano Drive said he had spent thousands of dollars rectifying work that had been done by other companies engaged in community improvements. The installation of new sewer lines a few years ago left him with a sinking backyard, a problem he still shares with Jack Schanck and Judd Gordon, who live nearby.

“When it rains, it's a birdbath,” Fitzsimmons said.

A road project forced him to lay in French drains when water flooded his driveway. He was skeptical about what Columbia Gas was planning.

Schanck had concerns about the new gas line he had installed at his home about 10 years ago. Others in the audience talked about the noise factor of the digging or the loss of mature trees as the new mainline is placed in the easement of their front yards 2 to 10 feet away from the curb, the first step in the project.

Work could start at the end of May or early June and end in December. Gas officials have not selected which street would be first.

New meters will be relocated to the sides of houses and then connected to the mainline via plastic pipe. It is the rusted cast iron versus new, flexible plastic conduits, which is one of the driving forces behind the work as the company gears up to serve future generations.

Pipe updates began across Pennsylvania in 2007, said Brynnly Schwartz, communications and community relations specialist from Columbia Gas, when neighborhoods were selected. The age and composition of the pipes, soil types and the number of leaks to existing lines also were considered.

She emphasized a major benefit: New service line with no out-of-pocket costs. Also, 40 percent of the project's investment will be dedicated to restoration of the customers' property.

Moving the gas lines and meters nearer the streets also will give the company easier access.

Construction coordinator Mike Kendra will visit each home to alert residents to the start of work on their street.

Promising minimal mess, he added, “We want to do it right.”

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or ddreeland@tribweb.com.

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