Wednesday, January 9, 2008
The Allegheny County of Public Works applied to the Allegheny County Health Department for $270,000 in clean air funds to help pay for a road-widening project in Kennedy and Robinson townships. The Department of Public Works contended that the project would relieve congestion on Lorish road and therefore it would improve air quality. Clean Water Action and the Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) showed up for the County Health Board meeting and spoke against the request. County Manager and Health Board Member Jim Flynn withdrew the request. Flynn says if the head of the Department of Public Works provides more details the request could be put back on the agenda in March. Michael Parker of GASP says the request may have been flatly illegal. Even if it were a legal use of the funds he says it would have set a bad precedent. Parker says if the funds were used for road projects there would be nothing left to fund educational programs, monitoring efforts and pollution reductions programs for which there is no other source of revenue. He says he thinks the spirit of the clean air fund is to support those types of activities not road projects. The groups against the application also argue that if road-widening projects were to be considered for the grants the applications should have to submit estimates on how much pollution would be eliminated by the project and a cost analysis for the investment of clean air funds.