The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

October 18, 2013

Officials reflect residents’ anger

Water line work contractor ripped

By Joe Wiercinski
Herald Staff Writer

SHARON — Aqua Pennsylvania came under fire Thursday for the work practices of its contractor during a project to replace water lines throughout Sharon.

Council members and the police and fire chiefs complained about intersections blocked during the work and what some said were violations of the work permits issued by the city to Wilsons Excavating and Grading Inc., New Wilmington.

Council President Vic Heutsche said he fielded complaints from residents along Smith Avenue and Griswold Street because that intersection was completely blocked at times this week. A large excavator parked at night along the street posed a hazard to motorists driving through that area in the dark, he said.  

Work at the intersection of Smith and Shenango Valley Freeway at Pine Hollow Boulevard endangered motorists because workers this week left one “poorly marked lane” to serve traffic in both directions when they finished their daily shift, Heutsche said.

“Residents are livid,” he said. “They can’t get in or out.”

Councilman Bill James, owner of Bill’s Avenue Lottery, said he had similar problems when trucks parked during the day blocked cutomers’ access to his Sharpsville Avenue business.

“They’ve been basically shutting down my business and when I complained, the only response I got was, ‘too bad,’ ” he said.

Police Chief Mike Menster and Fire Chief Terry Whalen both said they got only spotty notification from the contractor of when the schedule might affect safety vehicles’ access on  streets and at intersections during the work.

Heutsche called for immediate issuance of a stop work order to call Aqua’s attention to problems with the work throughout the city but amended that when others on council weren’t ready to go that far.

Instead, Heutsche asked that City Manager Scott Andrejchak extend his authority under the city’s street ordinance so the police and fire chiefs can stop work if they see such work permit violations as the contractor’s failure to maintain two-way traffic or provide adequately for public safety.

Andrejchak said he has a meeting planned for next week between his staff and the construction foreman. He said any councilman interested in sitting in could attend the meeting.