Updated: Apr 27, 2022
By Jamie Wiggan
A 319-page study outlining a sweeping overhaul of county sewage infrastructure leaves unanswered questions about what will happen to a former car dealership in McKees Rocks that’s the subject of a lawsuit.
The property has been a source of contention between the borough and ALCOSAN since the sanitary authority bought it in October 2020 for $2.05 million.
ALCOSAN has not disclosed its plans for the site, however, the borough’s lawsuit filed in March 2021 claims they will inflict economic and environmental harm on the community. These include, according to the filing, “the placement of a larger, long-term construction project in that area, with a large, open, excavated pit, large spoil piles and the associated noise, dust, dirt and commotion and added traffic congestion.”
The latest study indicates a drop shaft will be installed on or near the former Crivelli property,
but does not describe in detail what that means for the site. Communications Director Joseph Vallarian did not respond to multiple attempts to clarify plans for the property, which sits beside the town’s main retail district and a public housing facility.
The study recommends a series of far-reaching upgrades, which the authority will later vote into action after a 60-day public comment period. Ushering this along is a federal court order requiring the sanitary authority to reduce untreated sewer discharges into regional waterways.
A key piece of this entails constructing a tunnel under the Ohio River from McKees Rocks to the authority’s main plant in Pittsburgh. Other tunnels will also be sunk under the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers.
Speaking during the March 31 presentation, Mike Lichte, director of regional conveyance, said the location of surface facilities like drop shafts and regulators is designed around existing sewage flow patterns.
“The location of these facilities is largely fixed by the location of these overflows,” he said.
Kim Kennedy, director of engineering and construction, said the authority had been working with impacted municipalities and suggested finer construction details can still be tweaked.
“The study doesn’t provide, evaluate or approve the specific details of the tunnel system, or the wet weather pump system,” she said. “These will be addressed through subsequent design and permitting processes.”
Since filing the civil suit one year ago, the case has moved to federal court, where a final verdict has not yet been reached.
The lawyer who filed the case on behalf of McKees Rock, Steven Engel, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
McKees Rocks Council President Archie Brinza said borough and ALCOSAN officials are scheduled to meet in late April to discuss the status of the construction proposal and the accompanying lawsuit.