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Regent Square Brick Streets to Remain Brick

Thursday, July 22, 2010
By Deborah M. Todd, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

With parts of the Regent Square neighborhood’s brick-paved Macon and Trevanion avenues in shambles following a recent water main break, residents’ efforts to make sure the street is repaired in its original condition have paid off.

Swissvale council President David Petrarca said the Wilkinsburg-Penn Joint Water Authority agreed Tuesday to repair portions of the streets affected by the water main break with brick, rather than making repairs with asphalt as they had previously requested.

Borough ordinances require anyone excavating or repairing local streets to restore the surface and subbase with the same kind of materials that were originally in place, but the authority requested to repair the street with asphalt to alleviate costs.

“The water authority was very cooperative; we had a cordial meeting and the borough is happy with the agreement we reached. This is the best settlement that could have come out of this,” he said.

Questions about long-term maintenance, plus an offer from the authority to replace Macon Avenue’s waterline with the installation of asphalt, led Swissvale council to hold off on a final decision regarding the road’s repairs during the July 7 legislative meeting. More than 50 residents packed into Swissvale’s council chambers that day to voice objection to the authority’s request.

Neal Harrison of the Regent Square Civic Association outlined the benefits of brick paved streets, such as greater rainwater absorption, no annual repaving and increased property values for homes on brick streets. He also said several cities throughout the country are removing asphalt from bricked roads and renovating the original brick because of long-term maintenance costs.

“We would like to see the brick replaced. There are financial reasons, safety reasons and environmental reasons. The community is an asset and the brick streets are a part of that,” he said.

Mr. Harrison estimated replacing the brick road using existing materials will cost the authority about $81,000 compared to an approximately $90,000 estimate for the cost of asphalt.

However, Wilkinsburg-Penn Joint Water Authority executive director Anthony Russo Jr. said the agency’s engineer’s report estimated a total cost of $475,000 to repair the street with brick and replace water and service lines. The report said making the same repairs with asphalt would cost about $250,000 and it is unlikely the company’s insurance will cover the costs of restoring a brick street.

The report also noted that the authority’s repairs would fix only damage from the water main break, not repair the entire road.

“Macon Avenue is 30 feet wide and 640 feet long. It should be noted that repairing only the areas where it is evident that the damage was caused by the water break will not produce a consistent cross section and/or eliminate the wavy appearance of the street,” it reads.

Mr. Petrarca said the parties agreed during Tuesday’s meeting to have each of their engineers examine the damaged streets to determine exactly which portions will be repaired by the water company this month. However, the authority has not committed to installing a new waterline on Macon Avenue under the new agreement.

Mr. Petrarca said the borough does not have plans to repair portions of the road that weren’t damaged by the water main break, but said the road will be back in working condition once the authority’s repairs are made.

The borough is preparing a letter detailing results of the meeting to be read during its July 28 meeting.

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