Ravine Street in Sharpsburg poses a challenge — to cyclists pedaling uphill as well as to those who live downhill where wet weather can bring flooding.
It’s the flooding challenge that secured the borough a $1 million grant from the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority through the Green Revitalization of Our Waterways, or GROW, program — the largest such grant given to any suburb served by Alcosan — to reduce overflows that occur when stormwater overwhelms sanitary sewers.
For Ravine Street, the plan to reduce such overflows involves removing excess stormwater, rocks and debris from the borough’s sanitary sewer system before it reaches the treatment plant.
“Stormwater is not what is being minimized — that is under the control of nature,” said Milton Lenhart, an engineer with Alcosan’s Wet Weather program. “We are merely trying to get stormwater to the river as simply as possible and keep it out of the sewer pipes. This helps to minimize the amount of sewage that is forced to be discharged directly to the river in the form of a combined sewer overflow.”
Alcosan, local municipalities, Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority have been ordered by the federal government to stop sewer and water overflows into the area’s creeks, streams and rivers.
Sharpsburg manager Bill Rossey said the Alcosan GROW grant for Ravine Street is only part of the funding needed for a $3.5 million project to separate stormwater and wastewater to curtail overflows into nearby waterways and basements. “It also saves Alcosan from treating water that doesn’t need to be treated,” Mr. Rossey said. “There’s been $2.5 million raised so far, but we’re still $1 million short and we’re working with our neighbors and state representatives for the final amount.”
Jeanne Clark, public information officer for Alcosan, said the authority is continuing to work with Sharpsburg on a grant application through the Commonwealth Financing Authority and the second round of GROW grants to bridge to funding gap. In addition, she said, an application has been submitted for Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund money from the state.
If the funds are received, they will be added to money already provided by neighboring municipalities that have been working with Sharpsburg on the Ravine Street project.
O’Hara, Shaler and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation District 11 joined together to help Sharpsburg with the Ravine Street project. After all, upstream waters and contaminants run downstream.
In conjunction with the North Hills Council of Governments, O’Hara and Shaler asked that their most recent money from Allegheny County’s Gaming Economic Development Fund be applied to the project. With Sharpsburg, they contributed $100,000 in money from the gaming fund.
“We’re all working together,” O’Hara manager Julie Jakubec said. “This is a program we can participate in to benefit all of us together.”
NHCOG took on the administration of the project and transferred $250,000 to Alcosan from its gaming funds. “It’s a complicated project on both the revenue and expense side,” Wayne Roller, NHCOG executive director, said.
Cheryl Moon Sirianni, assistant district executive for design at PennDOT, said PennDOT District 11 has been working with U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, on the project and he directed transportation funds to be used to design a system to separate runoffs from a section of Route 28 that includes the portion from the Route 8 interchange past Sharpsburg.
According to a March 6 news release, of $800,000 in funds secured by Mr. Doyle and presented to Allegheny County, $570,000 will be used for projects in the area, including the Ravine Street project.
Plus, a total of $250,000 in gaming fund monies have been provided to Sharpsburg for the Ravine Street project by state Sen. Randy Vulakovich, R-Shaler; state Rep. Dom Costa, D-Stanton Heights; and state Rep. Hal English, R-Hampton.
“We are delighted to be able to work together on this project to the benefit of all involved,” Ms. Clark said.
Rita Michel, freelance writer, firstname.lastname@example.org.