Pittsburgh City Council President Darlene Harris says she is willing to pull back a bit on pressuring utilities that work in the city to better coordinate with the public works department. Last summer, Harris was upset at what she says was becoming a regular occurrence of utilities digging up streets shortly after they were paved. Harris hinted that the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority was doing it on purpose because it is easier to cut into fresh asphalt than it is to cut into asphalt that was laid years ago. The PWSA and other utilities denied the practice. Harris then introduced legislation forcing the utilities to work with the Public Works Department to make sure it does not happen in the future. Today, Harris held the legislation for six months. “ The administration has assured me that communications between them (sic) and the utilities, in particular PWSA, have been improving,” says Harris.
The Council President says she has been talking directly to the utilities as well. “At this point I’m convinced the utilities and public works can work something out here.”
Harris and Public Works officials say the life of a paving job is shortened when utilities cut into the new surface. Water seeps in and leads to the surface crumbling before its time, says Harris. In recent years the city has substantially curtailed the number of miles paved and every year the exact location of the paving jobs becomes a fight in City Council chambers.
Harris says she is holing the bill rather than pulling it because it may be need again in the future.