by Jonathan Weaver
A Kittanning Borough street project that residents and council officials have been waiting for is to begin tomorrow.
In August 2014, Kittanning Borough Council received a nearly-$220,000 Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant for pedestrian and paving improvements along Jacob Street. Just before the end of the construction season, Russell-Standard contractors have scheduled that project to be completed during the next week.
County Planning and Development Assistant Director Carmen Johnson updated council members on the project during last night’s Council meeting.
“They were to work last Saturday but that was cancelled because of the rain, and they were supposed to be working (Monday) but there were some technical difficulties at another job and they couldn’t get in here,” Johnson said. “I did speak to a representative from Russell-Standard and they did tell me (tomorrow) they will be in to mill the streets, Thursday they’ll be in to do the excavation and will do the paving next Monday and Tuesday (October 12-13).”
Russell-Standard officials submitted an extension request to PennDOT to permit construction through Friday, October 16, but local council members had to approve the extension before PennDOT would consider it.
PennDOT officials reportedly split the extension request from Russell-Standard in half (from 25 days to 13 days) – but first needed the local approval.
As Borough Council President Andy Peters pointed out, contractors were going to begin milling tomorrow with or without Council approval. He and six other council members formally approved the extension.
First Ward Councilman David Croyle opposed the action.
“This is why I voted no – this contractor has had sufficient time to do things properly. He bid knowing what it would take to do this job, and then right out of the gate, September 9, he asked for an extension,” Croyle said. “I believe there were some issues that (necessitated) an extension, but, like PennDOT, I didn’t believe it needed to be as long as we just gave him.”
Senate Engineering Representatives Mike Malak and Bill Braun also indicated that they have been attempting to get in contact with Russell-Standard, but the contractors did not return phone calls until County planners intervened.
Russell-Standard was awarded the project during a special Council meeting July 14 after they submitted the lowest bid – less than $335,000.
‘Notice to Proceed’ was issued to Russell-Standard Monday, August 17, but contractors were waiting for Balano Construction to complete ADA ramps and curb improvements.
Borough Police Chief Bruce Mathews said any street closures will be decided at the beginning of next week.
“I would like to attempt and keep the thru traffic on McKean and Jefferson (streets) open as long as possible,” Chief Mathews said. “Ultimately yes, there is going to be road closures, but I’m going to coordinate to try and keep that at a minimum.
“There are still a lot of things we’re anticipating that hasn’t been done yet, but if everything stays on schedule, that would be the game plan.”
A full street closure will have to be endured by motorists for at least two hours during next week’s paving.
Chief Mathews said the sidewalk-intersection closures along both streets were an inconvenience to residents, but did not cause for any motor or pedestrian accidents the past few weeks.
In other construction news, Johnson and council members briefly discussed possibly using leftover Downtown Kittanning Revitalization funds toward re-paving Jefferson, McKean and Grant Streets.
“There’d be no paving done until next year, but we need to know so we can get the process started,” Johnson said.
Further discussion will be had with borough Street Committee members and Street Supervisor Jim Mechling.