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Valley Brook Road Construction

What is going on with the road construction on Valley Brook Road?  So frustrating!  Never see any work being done...  Anyone know what is going on?
Roger December 29, 2013 at 02:29 PM
Amy, I was there on Sat, Dec 28 and shot over 60 pics. Nice day, 50 degrees, muddy, but open sunshine -- nobody working, and does not look anybody has worked for several days. I can share my albums if you know a way to get me your e-mail address, without public disclosure. Patch does not support peer-to-peer messages. I also have about 60 pics from Sept 28. Yes, the closure has gotten old, and will get older for the next eight (?) months. At the rate so far, who knows when it will be open. No urgency on this project.
Amy December 29, 2013 at 05:19 PM
Thanks, Roger. I just wondered if anyone knew a reason for the lack of progress. I wish they would atleast open Old Washington Road at Valkey Brook. That would be helpful.
Roger December 29, 2013 at 05:26 PM
Amy, an opening of Valley Brook/Old Washington intersection is completely out of the question. It is integral with the entire project. If you saw a few pictures, you would understand. At the moment, the location of the intended intersection is wide open, with the arch segments still exposed. The storm water drains are standing with about 10 feet exposed (I am thinking the top of the drains are at final roadway level). Any part of the project is a long way from completion.
PA Mom December 30, 2013 at 08:51 AM
A local newspaper said that construction has been delayed due to a lawsuit filed against the state by the hair salon.
Roger December 30, 2013 at 09:39 AM
@PA Mom, yes I read that story too. One would think that ALL the legal issues would have been settled BEFORE the first shovel of dirt was moved. Since the project is well underway, Szabo now sits in the driver's seat on schedule and monetary demands. The report said final completion was being moved back one month. I think previous legal entanglements with Lamair moved it back much further. But, these actions were before the project was started.
Steve Pfeifer January 01, 2014 at 01:00 PM
Standard PennDOT (and county, and municipal) contracts have limitations on when contractors can work. There are specific limits on construction, paving, concrete work, etc. due to snow and cold temperatures. Nearly all construction contracts shut down for the winter around Thanksgiving and start up again in the spring around the end of March. In between, it's usually way too cold to work, and the work would be bad quality due to the effect of cold temperatures on construction materials. That's why you don't pave roads when it's 10 degrees. Having said that, I can't understand how all of the legal agreements weren't in place before starting construction. I'm not sure the one-month delay is due to litigation. One article said something like there was a one-month delay and there was a lawsuit that had to be settled.
Sally Adams January 02, 2014 at 02:39 PM
It is so unfortunate that businesses are being adversely affected by the closure. I refer to the closure of Farmhouse Coffee. Personally, one of my family members took my car out to gas it up for me for a doctors appointment coming up that Monday morning. Cut over Center Church to 19 due to Valley Brook closure, slid off the road on an icy patch, hit a tree, another car came along, slid off into my wrecked car. I ended up with a totaled vehicle.
Roger January 02, 2014 at 04:44 PM
Steve, I agree with much of what you say. However, the temperature dependent part of the project, specifically paving, is a long way in the future. Likewise with pouring concrete. There is much excavating work and back filling work to be done. This should not be temperature sensitive. Excavation and back filling work is done throughout the year on other projects. [p] If the project has come to a halt, then it would be great PR move to make clear the problem. The Township has provided very little ongoing information since the project stated. I do recall one report, "... on schedule," but that has been a long time ago. The halt could be at the expense of the lawsuit, but it would be good for residents to hear that directly from Council, or another Township body. From the feedback I've received from a Council member, they are not aware of a halt, and are asking the same question, "What is happening?" I think people would be more understanding, if communication was frequent, and descriptions were forthcoming. But, experiencing the closure (witness: Sally above), and not seeing any work being done, does not sooth the frayed thoughts of the residents. A few pictures and descriptions on a regular cycle would help the misunderstandings that Amy expressed above about connection Old Washington and Valley Brook Rd. [p] One interesting observation on this project: No construction office trailer. Perhaps this is an indication the Contractor has temporarily packed up and left.
Joan Kaylor, MSEd, LPC, NCC January 07, 2014 at 10:23 AM
Hello Everyone. I would like to join this conversation. Obviously no work can be done in these freezing temps. I was wondering yesterday what would happen if the press was informed of Szabo's lawsuit. It is sad that one business owner can bully and inconvenience the entire township. I wish Karma would hit and his business would seriously slow down until construction resumed.
Roger January 07, 2014 at 12:27 PM
Joan, I don't think the issue is no-work in the last couple of days, rather the pattern over the Fall, and into Winter. Your point about lack of communication is what is frustrating the people. Mr. Szabo was at the center of discussions at Council four (five?) years ago when this project was under consideration. Viability of the project depended upon use of a portion of Mr. Szabo's property. The property was his, and he held every right to defend his position. But, what has happened after the project got started is another matter. I'm not supporting, or defending, Mr. Szabo, but one wonders why all the legal issues were not solved before work started. If he is being obstinate for the sake of being obstinate, that is one thing. If he is wrongfully being deprived of his property rights, that is something else. We don't know. Thinking he is a bully could be right. Thinking he is being deprived of property rights could be right. He may have known of legal problems, but chose to delay filing until the project was well under way, giving him leverage. Or, the project may have needed changes, ones that infringed upon previous agreements, and changes that Mr. Szabo will not comply at this time. Suggesting action against Mr. Szabo's business is inappropriate with the information provided. Further, we really don't know if the construction work was slowed, or halted, because of the lawsuit. The Contractor may have included a no-work time period in the schedule for particular Winter time periods. Speculation a great tool, but good communication is an even a better one.
Joan Kaylor, MSEd, LPC, NCC January 07, 2014 at 12:56 PM
Roger, I completely agree with your comments. We are all frustrated with the lack of progress on Valleybrook. As an expert in human communication I would like to bring all parties to the table and discuss solutions. Maybe I will show up at a township meeting someday to learn to facts. I do feel sympathy for all of us business and community effected by this. I look forward to a resolution and construction continuing. All the best, Joan
Amy January 07, 2014 at 02:34 PM
As a resident and tax payer of the township,I believe we should be better informed of the project's status. It clearly has been at a standstill. Weather is not the only issue here. It feels like we are being kept in the dark. It is a considerable inconvience, and it poses significant traffic and bysiness concerns. I would love to see a current news article!
Joan Kaylor, MSEd, LPC, NCC January 07, 2014 at 03:22 PM
Yes Amy, that would be wonderful. Maybe this discussion will prompt more interest from the community and an article. Almanac are you listening? Peters Township Council are you listening? What is going on?
PA Mom January 08, 2014 at 07:46 AM
I read the following in the OR this morning: "The Valley Brook Road project has a completion date of early September. Initially, the project was to be completed in July, then the date was moved to August and now September. Michael Silvestri, township manager, said a project update will be included in the next township newsletter. Work will continue through the winter."
Roger January 08, 2014 at 08:34 AM
PA Mom ... I saw that paragraph in the Council proceedings. I find it interesting that no mention is made of the lawsuit. But, it does answer the question about a no-work provision during Winter months as part of the contract. In another few weeks, it will be time again for another picture-tour to provide a visual update on progress.
JEM January 10, 2014 at 06:24 AM
I'd like to pop into this conversation and encourage a few moments of calm reflection. Can we all just suffer the inconvenience without spasm? Compared to other serious local problems that are being ignored (like traffic control on 19 from Waterdam to Boyce) to international problems that are being ignored (like Benghazi), the issue of Valley Brook is hardly the end of the world! What is the purpose of calling for a slowdown for a small business (which, by the way, I do not patronize) which has a constitutional right to object to how it is being treated by the local government. The point is: yes, it's terribly inconvenient, but are we so small that we can't suffer that temporary pain? One, two, three months extension is not exactly unbearable. The sky is NOT falling!
Joan Kaylor, MSEd, LPC, NCC January 10, 2014 at 08:02 AM
No business should suffer. We are all waiting for construction to begin again. I might point out that this is more than an inconvenience. No the sky is not falling, however, businesses along the Valleybrook/East McMurray corridor ARE suffering. Some may have to close due to people not being able to get to them. So it is more than an inconvenience. The sun will rise again. Valleybrook will open again new and improved. I look forward to that day as do we all. Best wishes.
JEM January 10, 2014 at 08:49 AM
May I ask -- which businesses cannot be accessed and cannot close? I would like to follow that problem more closely. Certainly that would be cause for outrage by those small business owners.
Roger January 10, 2014 at 05:57 PM
JEM, even though it was some distance from the intersection, Farmhouse Coffee's closure was directly attributed to the reduced traffic. Businesses on Rt 19 that had patrons coming from Valley Brook Rd undoubtedly have felt the pinch as well (e.g. print shop, Szabo, strip at the window/solon store). Businesses west of Rt 19 that relied upon traffic coming from E McMurray and the Venetia area also had to have been impacted. The businesses at the creek, Pooch Pit, Ballet Studio, probably have not felt the pinch much because they are point destinations. Yes, all the businesses are accessible, but, for those relying upon drive-by traffic, the closure is very important. Many of these are small businesses with little room for a slack time.
JEM January 10, 2014 at 08:09 PM
Roger, I was crushed to see the Farmhouse Coffee's closure. It was a favorite place for me. But I doubt that it was the VB construction that was the 'cause' of it's closure since it was located on an extremely accessible piece of property. Parking was a problem and probably the business model. (And I believe it was a point destination for most people, and did not rely on drive-by traffic. And let's face it, lots of small businesses everywhere are being affected by the economy. You can find empty storefronts across Peters, USC, Bethel, etc. Being a small business owner is extraordinarily difficult and I have a great deal of sympathy because I come from a family who owned a small business. But what would everyone suggest? Should the construction plan have been aborted before it even started? I doubt that anyone would think so. It's a project that needed to be done for the benefit of all, including the small business owners in the area. Are their glitches? Of course. One can expect that most small construction projects like that are going to have delays. Even the constructions of the new Giant Eagle Express was delayed. It happens. It's tough. I just don't think people should suggest that Szabo's should be held responsible in some way......and certainly not someone who is 'an expert in human communication.' It's a poor way of communicating the frustration that is inherent in being inconvenienced.
Sally Adams January 10, 2014 at 08:47 PM
For the record, my husband was a regular at Farmhouse Coffee. There every morning, first one in the door many days. He is also a business owner and had many peer conversations with the owner who told him repeatedly that the VB closure was one of the, if not THE, primary reason they could not afford to remain in business.
JEM January 10, 2014 at 08:59 PM
Thank you for correcting my misunderstanding of the situation. Like I said, I felt terrible when it closed. It truly was a "destination" for me and my friends. I feel badly for any small business impacted by construction, natural disaster, economy, healthcare, etc. I stand by my assessment though that the solution is not to suggest that Szabo's should suffer a serious slowdown -- especially since it seems unclear that the legal problem is the issue that is currently stopping construction. We should not get into a mean-spirited debate. Let's leave that to Congress!
Roger January 10, 2014 at 09:16 PM
To echo Sally, ... the reasons for closure, as stated by the owner, were directly related to the closure. Not my hunch or speculation, rather directly from the owners. Parking and business model reasons are speculation. It existed on that property with the parking and business model for many years. To be sure, many small businesses have been hurt in recent years. Only about 20% of new businesses survive after five years. On the other hand, new businesses can't seem to open fast enough on Rt 19. How many new pizza shops alone have been opened in the past year? I return to the frustration about communication. There is nothing about week-by-week progress on the Peters FB page, or web site. The repeated observations of nobody working has largely driven the frustration. Yes, we had some bitter cold days recently. But, December had no days like those of Monday and Tuesday this week. As for communication, the small clip in the recent O-R about the new schedule said nothing about the lawsuit delay. Since that story had been posted a few weeks ago, communication as follow up would be helpful. What are we going to do with the information? Well, not much. But, reasoning would help with the community's frustration. Just for completeness, there is some progress reports on the Township web page. The last one is Oct 8, three months ago. I went to shoot pictures so that others could see what was happening, and to help with the understanding of the scope of the project. Earlier in this thread, Amy had a good question about connectivity of Valley Brook Rd and Old Washington Rd. But, without understanding what is happening, there is no reason not to ask these kinds of questions. As for Mr. Szabo, his property is involved in the project. From the project drawings (and from Council meetings many years ago), a portion of his parking lot has to be taken for the ramps. As of a couple of weeks ago, some excavation work has been done for the ramps, but the arborvitae bordering his parking lot remained in place. Excavation has been done right next to the edge of the lot. Perhaps the details surrounding the removal of his parking lot is part of the lawsuit and delay. Did something expectantly arise on the removal of his parking lot that has caused a delay? Projects always don't go quite as planned when many parties/properties are involved.

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