Public works official OKs paving of his own street
Dead end serves 3 North Side homes
October 15, 2010 4:00 AM
New pavement at the L-shaped corner of Speck Street looking toward the dead end of Edwin Street.
By Rich Lord Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Cash-strapped Pittsburgh is resurfacing only around 30 miles of its 1,037 miles of paveable streets this year, but among those getting fresh blacktop is a dead end serving three houses.
The dead end terminates at property owned by Assistant Public Works Director Kevin Quigley, who manages the city's in-house paving crew and approved invoices totaling $8,284 for the asphalt that smooths the ride to his house.
"I deserve the right to get to my house," said Mr. Quigley, who also manages the Redd-Up crew, when asked about the surfacing of his street. "It's never been paved in its whole entirety, and [who] are you to determine, in the city of Pittsburgh, what streets get paved, and what streets don't get paved?"
Presented with the invoices signed, "OK by Kevin Quigley," Controller Michael Lamb said that someone else in public works should have handled the matter.
"Where you are the ... beneficiary of that street being paved, you would want some higher-up signing off," said Mr. Lamb.
In March, Mr. Quigley bought a century-old Brighton Heights house facing a dead end called Edwin Street. Edwin runs off of the northern end of Speck Street.
Adjacent Flora Street and parts of Speck feature the careworn, patched asphalt typical of city streets. Fresh blacktop begins where Flora crosses Speck, and rounds the bend and down Edwin, ending where the road does, at Mr. Quigley's property.
Records show that the city bought the asphalt from Lindy Paving from June 7 through 14. The three houses that benefit from the new asphalt include one just across the city line in Ross.
Public Works Director Robert Kaczorowski, to whom Mr. Quigley reports, said he agreed with the decision to pave Edwin. "I rode that and looked at that when [Mr. Quigley] was renting the property [before buying it], and it was in pretty bad shape."
Mr. Kaczorowski said the city's paving contractor, which does the bulk of the resurfacing, did work in that area this year. City records show that a separate, 478-foot section of Speck Street was repaved by that contractor. The city could have instructed the contractor to resurface the end of Speck and Edwin, he said, but doing it in-house with a unit called the alley crew was cheaper.
The alley crew, usually six or seven men, specializes in streets too small for the contractor. It typically resurfaces two to four miles per year, Mr. Kaczorowski said. Mr. Quigley manages it.
Mr. Kaczorowski said the alley crew usually works on streets identified through complaints to the 311 service line, and observations by public works supervisors. Speck and Edwin were not subjects of 311 calls, he said.
Council President Darlene Harris, who represents Brighton Heights, said she routinely seeks neighborhood input into street paving decisions, but Edwin Street has never come up.
Mr. Quigley said Edwin's surface was evaluated by department pavement experts and rated a zero -- the lowest possible rating. "The freaking mailman can't even get to my house," he said.
U.S. Postal Service spokesman Tad Kelley said he could find no records of mail carriers refraining from delivering mail to Speck or Edwin streets.
Council Finance Chair William Peduto, long an advocate of data-driven resurfacing decisions, said the use of city resources on Edwin reflects "not having a data-driven, transparent system."
Mr. Peduto in 2007 had an alley behind his Point Breeze home redone by the alley crew. On Thursday he said that he never drives that alley, and had it put on the paving list after neighbors complained about its condition and agreed to clear encroaching brush.
Mr. Quigley, who ran for council in 1999, said any story about his street would be "political."
Mr. Kaczorowski, his predecessor Guy Costa, and civil engineering experts have said that the city should ideally resurface 80 miles annually. The Post-Gazette reported in February that the city from 2007 through 2009 resurfaced a total of 110 street miles -- an average of 36.7 miles annually.