South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

SSCC elects board, hears about lead and Carson construction


The June 25 general meeting of the South Side Community Council featured board re-elections, and presentations on lead service line replacement and the Carson St. infrastructure project.

Board President Barbara Rudiak said the by-laws call for 15 board members. The re-election of six members that evening, and the election of a newcomer, brings the total to 13.

The re-elected board members are Joe Bielecki, Matt Brungo, Robert Cavalier, Adrian Smith, Frank Vitale, and Ed Wallo. The elected newcomer is Sa’ed Al-Olimat, a Duquesne University student.

There is space for two more members. Ms. Rudiak said any interested resident living in the 16th or 17th wards should email her at:

The first presenter for the evening was Dan Duffy, lead program manager for the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA), who discussed its lease service line replacement project.

The problem is the system is old, with some lines more than 150 years old. Additionally, with the city losing residents and therefore tax money over the past few decades, PWSA suffered with a loss of maintenance dollars.

Lead enters drinking water through corrosion in lead pipes or plumbing materials. The primary source of lead in water is old service lines that connect homes to the water main in the street.

PWSA estimates that 25 percent of homes in Pittsburgh still have lead service lines.

Mr. Duffy said PWSA is replacing 2,100 residential lead service lines by the end of 2018. PWSA will pay for the entire lead service line replacement.

PWSA looked at areas of the city in which there are numerous lead service lines. Eighteen areas were then identified for replacement work. South Side is scheduled for later this year.

In the South Side Flats, the impacted areas include some properties on Carey Way, Larkins Way, Sarah St., and East Carson St. from 19th to 25th streets; and some properties on Wharton St., Fox Way, Sidney St., and Wrights Ways from 17th to 22nd streets.

To view the PWSA lead service line map, visit:

Customers identified for replacement under this program will be contacted by the Authority with a letter in early July. The letter will ask for permission with a signature to do work on their property. A sample kit will also be sent to take a water sample before PWSA comes out.

Once the signed letter is received, PWSA will set up a meeting to inform the homeowner of what they plan to do, and any options. Typically, the work takes one day and the homeowner must be present.

Construction will be scheduled for a few days later.

PWSA personnel will also inform the customer about the impact on their property as all restoration costs must be paid by the homeowner, such as grass planting or landscape replacement. The PWSA will restore sidewalks at its expense.

Once completed, the county’s plumbing division will conduct an inspection.

Homeowners may opt out of line replacement on their property.

Customers who wish to replace a private lead service line at their own expense should contact PWSA and the organization will replace the public portion at the same time at PWSA’s expense, if it is also made of lead.

Posters of the maps of impacted areas can be viewed at the Brashear Association.

Next, engineer Emily Gaspich, P.E., of the city’s Dept. of Mobility and Infrastructure - Streets Division, and project manager of the Carson St. infrastructure project, said of the three upcoming South Side streets projects, two are federally funded and one is in the city’s capital budget.

The federally-funded ones are for 18th St. signals upgrades for pedestrian safety, and for lighting improvements from Muriel St. to Wharton St. to 23rd St. to Sidney St. to Hot Metal St.

The East Carson St. safety improvement project will extend from the Smithfield St. Bridge to 33rd St.

Work will be done by the city in conjunction with improvements carried out by the state Dept. of Transportation [PennDOT].

Those improvements include: enhanced pedestrian accommodations, like installing curb extensions and ADA compliant curb ramps; enhanced transit accommodations through super stops; accommodating cyclists by maintaining existing bike infrastructure and providing enhanced connections to and from the Birmingham Bridge; and upgrading traffic signals.

The latter includes replacing existing signals from Smithfield St. to 24th St .; updating existing traffic signals from 26th St. to 33rd St .; installing street lighting at the signalized intersections; rephrasing signal operations, where needed, to provide for advance left turn movements; and retiming and coordinating signals to enhance traffic progression.

There will also be updated signage and milling and overlay of pavement.

There are also plans to install pedestrian refuge islands.

Other corridor improvements involve complete sidewalk connection from the stairwell on the Birmingham Bridge to Carson St., and complete bike lane connection from the Birmingham Bridge to Carson St.

The projected first-year benefits of the East Carson St. safety improvement project are reductions in: percentage of crashes; vehicle hours of delay; stops along the corridor; fuel usage; and emissions. There are also monetary benefits in each of those reductions.

The city’s scope will encompass: street and pedestrian level lighting; street trees and hanging baskets; concrete restoration from behind curbs to the back edge of tree pits; signage replacement; and removal of old light fixtures.

The design constraints are utilities, narrow sidewalks, monolithic curbs and sidewalks, and vaults, with the latter defined as room under sidewalks.

Regarding vaults, the city will be requesting “right of entry” from property owners on primarily 10th to 25th streets to access the vault area and retained basement space.

The primary purpose of the vault assessment is to determine if a light pole or tree pit can be located adjacent to someone’s property. The assessment does not involve alterations to the structure.

Project construction is expected to begin in late 2018 and last for one year. The estimated cost to the city is $3.5 million.

For questions, email Ms. Gaspich at

Neighborhood planner Felipe Palomo, of the city’s Dept. of City Planning, said the curb extensions in the PennDOT project will reduce pedestrian crossing distance; improve visibility for pedestrians, and improve visibility for more vehicles.

Other planned projects within the corridor include the Highline office and retail complex; Station Square East residential development; South Side Park master plan; a Station Square transit center project by Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT); and a 21st St. green infrastructure project by the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority/Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

An attendee questioned the proposed $1 million expenditure for a sidewalk from where it ends on the Slopes side of Carson St. (8th St.) to Arlington Ave. The plan also calls for adding multiple bus stops.

The attendee said there is already a sidewalk there that is barely used, and not many houses.

He said the $1 million would be better spent finishing the curbs on East Carson St. that are not scheduled to be replaced.

In announcements, an East Carson strategy building session will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on July 12 at the South Side Market House. Attendees will learn about the findings of the Fourth Economy, the consultant retained to develop a three- to five-year strategy for the East Carson St. business district.

The project will include: working with Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) staff and others to collect data for the corridor; surveying businesses and customers to determine the current retail and hospitality market; working with South Side organizations and the city’s Nighttime Economy manager; and developing recommendations for the implementation of the plan.

Funding for the study is from the URA and the city.

In other news, Ms. Rudiak said the 27th Annual South Side Home Tour and Neighborhood Art Walk held on June 23 was a big success, despite a little rain. Participants numbered about 300.

The Fifth Annual South Side Garden Tour will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 22.

A 15203 Neighborhood Party will be held on Sept. 15. Details to come.


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