Sewer dispute over; project to end soon
While the state will remain responsible for Indiana Road after a sewer installation project is completed, Penn Hills will end a long-standing dispute by taking over maintenance of streets and sewers in the Newport Square townhouse development.
Two change orders and about $40,000 later, the Indiana Road sewer project is expected to be completed in about two weeks, Penn Hills Water Pollution Control Department director James Schaffer said.
The total cost of the project, originally bid at $78,000 over the summer and expected to take about 45 days, is now more than $119,245, which is closer to municipal officials' earlier estimates on the work. The cost includes replacing failing septic tanks on four houses and extending sewer lines to three undeveloped properties along Indiana Road near Hulton Road.
Then in the fall, municipal officials encountered problems in obtaining an easement from one of the property owners, requiring the contractor, Nicassio Enterprises, to move equipment off-site, adding more than $30,000 to the cost of the project.
All easement issues have been settled. However, officials with the state Department of Transportation determined that an existing manhole was too close to the road.
Concern focused on the volume of traffic that travels on the road and the possibility of a partial collapse resulting from the current location of the manhole.
"If we had not agreed to move the manhole and sewers, we would have been responsible for fixing the road if it ever gave way," Schaffer said. "This in effect eliminates us from having to take care of any future problems with the road."
Deputy Mayor Peggy Denham said the municipality's options are limited.
"The state didn't force us," Denham said. "It's more of a case of it being our road or their road."
The municipality will assume ownership and take over maintenance of streets and sewers in the Newport Square townhouse development, located off Duff Road.
There are 103 townhouses already built, with another 29 units planned along Newport and Shadywood drives, which previously were considered private streets.
"This is an issue that's been around for 10 years," said municipal Manager John Brennan. "But it was only recently that it wound up in court."
Council earlier rejected the same request from Amore Companies of Monroeville, developers of Newport Square, prompting them to file a lawsuit in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court to force the municipality to accept the streets and sewers in the development.
Judge Joseph James ordered negotiations that resulted in a consent decree reached Dec. 17.
"They had to provide some additional documentation, do some repairs to the roads and sewers, and they also paid the municipality to flush out the lines with a high pressure jet," Schaffer said. "Most of the improvements have now been done."