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Officials still seek funding for Canonsburg Lake dredging

| Wednesday, March 14, 2001

Advocates of dredging Canonsburg Lake will have to look somewhere other than the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission for money, but another state agency may pick up the tab.

Officials from North Strabane and Peters townships sent letters to the commission, which stocks the lake with fish, expressing support for the dredging of the lake.

Over its nearly 60 years, the lake has accumulated silt deposits that have cut the lake's depth in half in some places.

Peter Colangelo, executive director of the commission, responded last week to the letter sent by Peters Township, noting that while sediment buildup in the man-made lake is significant, the commission doesn't have the money to pay for the dredging. The project could cost at least $1 million.

'The cost of having the material removed from the lake would be very high, well above the level of funding the commission has allocated for dam repairs,' Colangelo said in his letter.

Frank Siffrinn, North Strabane Township manager, said he hasn't received a response, but he anticipates getting a similar letter within the next day or two.

But one state legislator might turn to another agency in Harrisburg.

State Rep. Tim Solobay, whose district includes most of Canonsburg Lake, said he will submit a formal proposal to the state Department of Environmental Protection for a Growing Greener Grant that could be used for the dredging. Solobay said dredging the headwaters in the lake could cost $1 million, and dredging the entire lake could be four times that amount.

Solobay, a Canonsburg Democrat, suggested previously that the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission could pay for the dredging if the Southern Beltway is built. The beltway is a proposed 30-mile toll road from Pittsburgh International Airport through northern Washington County and to the Mon-Fayette Expressway, another toll road currently under construction.

Turnpike Commission spokesman Joe Agnello said such an action would not be unprecedented and that the commission has paid for various waterway improvements when a toll road went through that waterway.

Commission officials are choosing among four possible alignments for that particular stretch of the beltway, two of which would go over Canonsburg Lake.

However, state Rep. John Maher, an Upper St. Clair Republican whose district includes a small part of the lake, said that even if the turnpike commission would pay for the dredging of the lake, construction for the beltway still is years away.

Agnello said if all goes well, the full length of the beltway could be open by the end of the decade.

Maher suggested that the dredging project could be a candidate for a capital budget allocation.

Vince Guerrieri can be reached at vguerrieri@tribweb.com or at (412) 306-4533.

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