Category: Ford City

Alley Repaving Begins in Ford City

Pro-Tech Asphalt construction workers mill Ash Alley in Ford City Tuesday evening. Crews plan to drop new asphalt today, weather-depending.

By Jonathan Weaver

Contractors started milling nine alleys in Ford City Borough yesterday in preparation for laying new asphalt.

While efforts are ongoing along 5th Avenue, Ash Alley – which travels parallel to 4th Avenue from 17th Street to 12th Street – and Cypress Alley – which runs from 9th Street to State Route 128 past Boulder Park – will be under construction through the remainder of the week.

Planning Commission Member Tyson Klukan – who proposed the alley repaving to Borough Council members in May – was on-site yesterday evening watching contractors mill the alleys.

“The Planning Commission met at the end of May, and May 27, we came up with a proposal to run the street project – we knew there was $170,000 in Liquid Fuels account this year while some of that was allocated to the Central Business District,” Klukan said.

He recalled that Planning Commission members walked Borough streets with members of council to decide the worst streets, avenues and alleys in town. Klukan estimated the two alleys currently being paved haven’t been paved in nearly 20 years.

Photos at the time of Klukan’s proposal showed alleys rotted and stress fractures near Millwood Arms on 13th Street, Taylor’s Auto Repair near 15th Street and Family Dollar near 12th Street.

Bids were out for three weeks before a $103,500 contract was issued to Pro-Tech Asphalt of New Castle during a council special meeting July 21.

“It took a couple of weeks to sign the contract and the bonds, but they’re down here now and construction has started!” Klukan said. “I’m very excited that this project is underway – I’m already seeing improvement down here, seeing improvement already with them just milling up the street. It’s already a smoother roadway for residents to drive through the alley here.

“I had a half-dozen residents come out and tell me, ‘Hey, thanks – we’re glad Ford City is finally doing this. It’s good to see we’re fixing infrastructure here in town,” Klukan added.

Tresco Paving of Pittsburgh – the contractor repaving several blocks of 5th Avenue (State Route 128) – bid less than $140,000 for the current job. In July, Klukan recommended Council accept Pro-Tech’s bid, not only due to the cost coming in around what was expected, but because of the company’s interest at a pre-bid meeting.

Interim Borough Manager Eden Ratliff announced Monday night that the paving of the two alleys should be complete by the end of the week, weather-depending. He revised an earlier statement about parking along the alleys.

“I know it said that the alleys were going to be closed from 7AM-5PM – that’s not correct. You shouldn’t park in your alley, but if you do park in your alley, just talk to the contractors and they’ll help you get out,” Ratliff said. “It might take you a couple minutes, but they’re going to work with you. The alleys aren’t closed, but I would avoid them.”

Klukan credited an internship experience with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Gibson-Thomas Engineering of Latrobe and the project inspectors for helping make the project a reality.

At least eight construction workers were on-scene yesterday.


Water Engineering Rebuilding Ford City, DEP Relationship


Borough Engineer Ed Schmitt of Gibson-Thomas Engineering made his first appearance at a Ford City Borough council meeting last night with good news on a DEP consent order.

By Jonathan Weaver

An uneasy relationship between Ford City Borough and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) due to its ongoing water treatment plant issue might be starting to be resolved.

Borough Engineer Edward F. Schmitt, vice-president at Gibson-Thomas Engineering in Latrobe (Westmoreland County), was present at last night’s borough meeting free of charge to discuss progress that has been made since the firm’s hire in early May.

‘I thought because of the importance of some of the future meetings that might come before DEP that I should show up here tonight and answer any questions and present some things that have been going on,” Schmitt said. “It has been a very busy month of August.”

The first item of business referred to the $467,000 Safe Water Appropriation Grant acquired at the beginning of 2011 under then-Borough Engineer David Nichols. The intent at the time was to repair the existing system near the Ford City football field.

Grant funds originally had to be spent by July 2012 – with some of the final expenditures being a new roof and backwash facility earlier that year before new plans were made with then-Engineer James Garvin and extensions were filed.

Verified by DEP, there is less than $91,000 remaining in grant funds.

In addition to the tank cover, the Safe Water grant has been used to assist with the cost of additional piping, five meter pits and mapping to protect the Allegheny River from the untreated discharge flow.

While three vaults and locations are ready to go, at least one will require a change order.

“The vault that would measure the flows from the treatment plant – we have room to put it in, but in order to get it in place we can’t just cut into the existing line. The existing line is about nine feet deep and 12 inches– if we would cut into that line, the entire town would be without water for an extended period of time,” Schmitt said.”When you put this pit in, it’s not something you just dig a hole, drop a pit in and three hours later you’re ready to go.”

After discussion with Interim Borough Manager Eden Ratliff and Council Vice-President Jerry Miklos, contractors did come up with a $37,400 solution, proposed via change order, that would enable control while residents maintain their water service.

Council will not act on that proposed change order until it is heard whether DEP will utilize grant funds to pay for the installation.

The final vault also requires some a reverse osmosis process discussed with DEP during an August 27 preliminary planning meeting.

“You’re problem isn’t as much the softening – that’s really easy to take care of – but you have total dissolved solids from all three of your wells that exceed max contaminant limit – not by much, but by enough that you have to do something,” Schmitt said.

As was the issue between Garvin and DEP, the department has now successfully acknowledged the allocation permit, discharge permit and Gibson-Thomas engineers are finalizing the public water supply permit (for the water plant itself) before a September 23 meeting – the last of the three permits required by DEP as part of the consent order

“I feel strongly that the numbers we’re going to see on the plant as we propose it will be lower than what you were looking at previously – which would make it even more cost-effective to stay with your own water plant,” Schmitt said. “I’m pretty confident, but I’m going to have to jump through a few hoops to make them agree.”

As he said in July, Miklos said he was “impressed” with the work performed so far.

As asked by Mayor Marc Mantini, Schmitt said he would like to see fines resolved by the end of the year. Nearly $92,000 in fines has already been accrued to-date.

“We’ll do the best we can to try and convince them that you’re headed in the right direction and your hearts in the right place,” Schmitt concluded.

Schmitt suggested in the future making verbal reports through Council Vice-President Jerry Miklos or Interim Borough Manager Eden Ratliff.

Councilman Josh Abernathy agreed with the recommendation, voting against an item to pay $200 or more for a one-page report for each council meeting.

“I don’t know why we have to pay when we’re pinching pennies everywhere we can,” Abernathy said. “I’m against it –I don’t think it’s necessary.”

A majority of council members also voted against the motion.

In the council work session, members discussed establishing a contingency fund for repairs and maintenance on the water plant

“I think their concern is that what has happened here previously doesn’t happen again,” Miklos and Abernathy collaborated. “Or that money is taken from the Public Utility Fund to fund other things, instead of those funds being available for future repairs.

“We have to prove to them that building the water plant will be a viable opportunity.”

Councilman Gene Banks was absent from both the work session and regular council meeting.