Motorist heading toward Homestead on Carson Street or up Becks Run Road to Carrick since June 2010 may have noticed part of the $101 million upgrade the Pennsylvania American Water Company has been doing to their facilities.
According to Jay Lucas, project manager for PAWC, the upgrade was necessary because it would have been too costly to try to retrofit new equipment into the old facilities.
The company is installing new water intakes at the Monongahela River across the CSX Railroad tracks from the Becks Run Pumping Station. At the bottom of the 40-foot deep intake at the river's edge water will flow by gravity through pipes beneath the railroad tracks to a new high efficiency pumping station where it is pushed up Becks Run to the Hays Mine Water Treatment Plant.
The new pumping station will be one-tenth the size of the old building and will have back-up diesel generators, something the current station does not.
New pipe will be put in place a portion of the way to replace the 100 year old steel riveted pipe currently in place.
Mr. Lucas explains, the Monongahela River is a "nice watershed" for the community, saying they don't have issues as a result of low water flow volumes.
The old Becks Run Pumping Station, built circa 1894, will be retired and most likely it will be demolished.
The project required PAWC to work out an agreement with the city, the URA and Friends of the Riverfront to close the bike trail in the area from Monday through Friday to allow the contractor for the project, Kokosing Construction, access to the river. The trail is open for bikers and hikers on the weekends.
To protect the trail from the heavy equipment needed for the project, Kokosing added four inches of asphalt to the road surface.
As part of the project, during mid to late May, it may become necessary to close the far right lane (heading toward Carrick) of Becks Run Road to facilitate installing 3,000 feet of 42-inch pipe. The contractor will continue to work dawn to dusk.
Traffic will be maintained on Becks Run in both directions during the construction.
Nearly two miles up the hill, the Hays Mine Water Treatment Plant is also undergoing an upgrade. The building is being expanded so the company can use liquid chlorine instead of gas. Although they've never had a problem with the gas chlorine, Mr. Lucas explained the liquid form is safer and still provides the needed disinfection.
Just across the road, new water storage tanks are being constructed. The new high capacity tanks will allow water to be exposed to chemicals for the longer period required by federal guidelines.
Motorist may have also notice the dedicated street sweeper keeping Becks Run clear during the construction.
Timeline for the construction has the intake and water treatment facility completed this year and the new pumping station and water storage tanks finished sometime next year.