McDonald set to make major road repairs

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McDonald is set to complete major road repairs later this summer with financial help from state drilling impact fees.

And the borough's yearlong sewer line replacement project, including restorative road paving, is set to finish in June.

Council voted 7-0 on Monday to approve a $100,000 loan for street improvements and a plow truck.

In late summer and early fall, up to 28 roads will be sealed with a process called fog sealing and resurfaced with micropaving, a method expected to endure for eight to 10 years and cost less than asphalt paving, officials said.

Council Vice President Pat Powell, the finance chairman, said the project is the borough’s first major investment in road repairs in many years.

“The streets have deteriorated significantly,” he said.

Yearly debt payments will be covered mostly by money the borough collects in Marcellus Shale drilling impact fees under state Act 13. The borough expects to receive about $21,000 this year.

Council President Marilou Ritchie said the road project will barely affect the borough’s regular budget — about $1.2 million this year — because of the Act 13 money.

“I’m ecstatic about that,” Ms. Ritchie said. “The monies are available to use, and we’re putting them to good use, I think.”

Officials plan to spend $87,000 on the road work and use the remaining $13,000 for a used truck with a snow plow.

With interest, total cost of the five-year loan with First Commonwealth Bank will be  $109,000 to $110,000, Mr. Powell said.

Another 17 or so roads could be paved next year, depending on future funding options, council members said.

Municipalities must spend drilling impact money in any of 13 categories, including road maintenance and repair, infrastructure improvement and public safety.

Under the state’s 2012 shale law, the Public Utility Commission collects money from drillers and distributes it. All counties receive some money even if rigs are not located within them.

McDonald does not contain any gas wells; the neighboring Washington County townships of Robinson and Cecil host multiple Marcellus Shale wells and operations.

Many roads throughout McDonald have been torn up — and repaved or restored to varying degrees — due to underground utility line replacement projects by the McDonald Sewage Authority, Pennsylvania American Water Co. and Columbia Gas.

The sewage authority’s $5.18 million overhaul of the borough’s sewer lines — including road, sidewalk and yard restoration — is scheduled to wrap up June 15, authority secretary Gloria Stroop said.

The project, which began in March 2013, has involved installing 30,000 feet of sanitary sewer line beneath roads and sidewalks in about 60 percent of the borough to allow separate lines for sewage and storm water.

Once property owners receive a notice from the sewage authority, they will have 90 days to connect to new sewer lines, Ms. Stroop said.

Residents will have to pay for the new line between their homes and the main line, but the borough will not charge tap-in fees, she said.

In the next few weeks, the water company will begin installing lines under Third, Fourth, Fifth, Kay and Poplar streets, Councilman Steve Matta said.

The gas project is nearly complete, Mr. Powell said.

Council members said any property owner whose curb has been damaged by a utility project should notify the borough office in writing.

In addition to road paving and new utility lines, borough improvements include a new concrete sidewalk and flagpole in front of the municipal building, 151 School St., and the planned use of reflective tape rather than paint to mark crosswalks and speed control lines.

“We’ve got a lot to be proud of,” Mr. Powell said.

Andrea Iglar, freelance writer:

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