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If they build it ...

| Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2006

Rostraver Township Sewage Authority Manager Walter Johnson smiled as he spoke the words "if you build it, they will come."

He could not avoid the cliche because it appears to be so true for the township.

"It" will be more than 32 miles of sewage lines that will connect Route 51/Interstate 70 corridor, the Matty Plan, Finley Road, the Rosemont plan, Pricedale, Lynnwood, east on Route 201 to Virginia Drive and the Concord area to the existing treatment plants. That work is expected to begin next week and be complete by July.

"They" are the countless number of businesses that are expected to locate to areas of Route 51 previously not developable because of the lack of sewage service.

"We expect 51 to go wild," township Commissioner Tom Patterson said.

"We expect 51/70 to build out in 3 1/2 years," Commission Chairman Nick Lorenzo added.

The availability of sewage service along Route 51 can be divided into three sections.

Route 51 south of the Finley Road intersection is not expected to be connected to the sewage system in the near future, Lorenzo said.

Traveling north on Route 51, frontage between Finley Road and C. Harper Chevrolet will be connected to the sewage system. The northbound section of Route 51 north of C. Harper has sewage service.

A small stretch of Route 51 South near the Rostraver Airport is not yet included in the sewage plan.

"Sewage is the main obstacle to the Route 51 corridor exploding," Commissioner Ralph Iacoboni said.

Development will also include new homes as well as businesses. Lorenzo said there are multi-acre sections of the township where property owners can't develop because there was no sewage service.

Sewage service will open up all of Port Royal for development, Lorenzo said.

Rostraver has been compared in some circles to Cranberry Township in terms of its opportunities for expansion. But the commissioners are cautious of that comparison.

Patterson said township commissioners met with a Cranberry official to share development ideas.

While Route 51 has plenty of frontage, the property is not as deep, creating a limit on the amount of development there, Patterson noted.

Businesses such as the former Sleeper Cheaper on Route 981, soon to be a Best Western, have their own system, but will be required to connect to the township system when it is complete.

Sewage lines running along Route 201 could help revive the proposed Rostraver Southpointe project.

Through the project, two tracts of township land -- 500 acres and 900 acres -- located near the intersection of Route 201 and Interstate 70 would be transformed into a mixture of commercial, industrial and residential property.

The land surrounds the C. Vance DeiCas Highway, which is located at the borders of Rostraver Township, Monessen and Donora.

Officials have said the development could lead to 14,500 jobs, nearly 400 single-family homes and more than 200 townhouses.

It has also been speculated that the project -- still years away - could generate about $1 million a year in tax revenue. The township's annual budget is about $4 million.

Traffic study and ingress/egress were the largest obstacles to pushing the project further, said Westmoreland County Redevelopment Authority director Jack Karazsia. But adding sewage service is also significant, he said.

Lorenzo agreed.

"I would think it would be a plus because now it's one of the key elements for infrastructure," Lorenzo said. "That's been a huge stumbling block."

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