Paving under way on Blairsville's Market and Walnut streets
Resurfacing of sections of two of Blairsville's main thoroughfares is expected to continue through next week, with work occurring during evening and early morning hours.
Reporting at Tuesday's Blairsville Council meeting, borough manager Tim Evans said the PennDOT project will repave Market Street (old Route 22) from Walnut Street (Route 217) east into adjacent Burrell Township. According to Evans, a smaller section of Walnut, extending from Market south to the vicinity of South Alley, also will be improved.
Evans noted work is to take place between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. “They're not closing it down,” he said of the construction area. “They'll be working under flaggers,” with nighttime lane restrictions.
Evans said milling was expected to wrap up this week, with paving set to occur this coming Monday through Wednesday, weather permitting.
He cautioned motorists to drive cautiously through the construction area, especially in sections where the road surface may temporarily be uneven.
“There are some spots where they're milling eight inches and they're not paving until Monday,” he noted. “So be careful coming through town.”
According to a PennDOT travel advisory, the $2,796,275 surface improvement project is being constructed by Derry Construction Company, Inc., of Latrobe and work is expected to be completed by Aug. 30.
The project also will include an update of some curb ramps at East Market and Stewart streets. That work is to occur during daylight hours and will not require lane closures.
“All of the curbing on the west side of Stewart Street will be redone” at no cost to the borough, Evans said. Those curbs were improved in 2007, during the first phase of the borough's now-completed Market Street streetscaping effort. But, he explained, standards for curbing under the Americans with Disabilities act have changed since then.
Evans previously had expressed hope that the Norfolk Southern rail crossing on East Market would be improved in conjunction with the repaving — to eliminate the bumpy, jarring ride for motorists who drive across it. But it doesn't appear likely that will happen now.
Evans noted that PennDOT doesn't have any direct responsibility for the crossing and has indicated that it has “no plans made with Norfolk Southern to do anything with that crossing.”
Councilman Ron Evanko suggested, if no action is taken to address the crossing, the borough should send a letter asking the state's Public Utilities Commission to intervene.
Evanko commended the Blairsville Community Development Authority for the inaugural Knotweed Festival it organized last Saturday on West Market Street and along Blairsville's Riverfront Trail. Several borough officials indicated they'd heard positive reaction to the event that featured music, food and art- and nature-related activities.
“It was a nice, community-oriented event. It didn't feel like a flea market or street festival event,” said Leann Chaney, executive director of the authority.
“We had a lot of people who helped make that a success,” she said, citing the borough police department, which helped with security; BCDA board member Carol Persichetti, who chaired a group of volunteers who planned the event; and WyoTech students, who provided additional volunteer assistance.
Borough police also have been busy investigating crime. Police Chief Michael Allman told council that borough officers were involved in three related drug arrests and that arrests were pending of two suspects in recent thefts of copper fixtures from unoccupied homes in Blairsville.
In other action, borough council approved a zoning change for a property along Indiana Avenue that is used by the 12th Congressional Regional Equipment Company, an organization that rents and sells surplus government equipment to member municipalities.
Evans noted that, despite such past use and likely continued use, the property was lumped together with adjacent homes into a medium-density residential zone during the most recent update of the borough zoning map.
At the request of Serko LLC, which recently purchased the property from the 12th REC and is now leasing it back to the organization, the borough planning commission recommended rezoning the property for light industrial use. Council approved the recommendation on Tuesday.
At its June meeting, council had approved a subdivision to combine three contiguous parcels being used by the 12th REC into one parcel.
Borough officials discussed a draft letter the Blairsville Municipal Authority has prepared to send to homeowners whose downspouts are in violation of regulations by directing storm water into the borough sanitary sewers or by not extending 10 feet from the foundation of the residence.
The letter acknowledges that some owners may not be able to meet the 10-foot requirement without encroaching on a neighboring property and indicates the authority will discuss with them other options — such as a rain barrel, flex spout extender, roll-out extender or a dry well.
The letter gives homeowners 30 days to correct any downspout violation or 10 days to request an extension of that deadline.
Councilman Jeff Marshall expressed concern that there are many homes in the Third Ward that could not comply with the 10-foot requirement due to their close proximity, with some even sharing a common gutter.
Councilman Jim Mollo protested that the costs of meeting the downspout requirements could be prohibitive and might prevent owners from selling residential properties
“You're putting a hardship on the public,” he said, also expressing disapproval of rates the authority charges. “I think the rates ought to come down.”
Evans said similar requirements are in place in Indiana and are the result of mandates by the state Department of Environmental Protection. Redirecting storm water from sanitary sewers allows municipal sewage treatment plants to operate more efficiently.
Evans added that the borough has been asked to take part in a team that will look at revamping Indiana County's storm water management plan.
Jeff Himler is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2910 or firstname.lastname@example.org.