‘Worst’ potholed street scheduled for repair

A pothole review revisited

INDIANA — In May 2012, The HawkEye published a review of potholes in which local motorists complained of flattened tires and twisted wheel alignments from negotiating such borough streets as West Avenue.

Two years after the story’s publication, repairs began on that two-block extension of South Eighth Street, a northern gateway to the campus of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. On June 19 in light rain, workers excavated and poured two concrete crosswalks/speed bumps and adjacent asphalt transition strips on a stretch of streetscape described as “the worst” by the borough’s pothole boss.

Workers pour one of two new concrete walkways/speed bumps on West Avenue between the Hadley Union Building complex adjacent to the IUP campus, June 19. Photo by David Loomis.

Workers pour one of two new concrete walkways/speed bumps on West Avenue between the Hadley Union Building complex adjacent to the IUP campus, June 19. Photo by David Loomis.

The repairs were the work of contractors hired not by the borough but by the IUP Student Cooperative Association, an organization supported by student fees. By earlier agreement with the borough, the Co-Op assumed responsibility for the two living-room-size surfaces on the stretch of pavement from School Street on the north to Locust Street on the south, said Louis Garzarelli, the Co-Op’s operations director.

The cost of the job was $1,800, said Garzarelli in a June 19 interview at the construction site in the shadow of the second-story skywalk connecting the Co-Op’s two Hadley Union Building facilities bordering the potholed north-south street.

Garzarelli said the Co-Op decided to proceed rather than wait for the borough to repair the rest of what he described as an alleyway “not for the type of traffic that it gets.”

“For five or six years we have asked the borough to fix it,” said Garzarelli.

David Fairman, the borough‘s 11-year director of public works, said the West Avenue project is on his to-do list. But he cited its inclusion on a recent compilation of 30 citizen complaints posted to the borough’s pothole hotline since its inauguration on Jan. 31.

With one exception, all the listed potholes have been patched, said Fairman. The exception is West Avenue.

“It was fruitless, as bad as it was,” Fairman said in a July 1 telephone interview.

In a July 7 email, Fairman acknowledged that West Avenue’s two-block-long stretch was “the worst” of the 30 items on the hotline list. But he said traffic was a key factor in prioritizing borough pothole repairs.

If a pothole by the railroad tracks on Philadelphia Street sees thousands of vehicles a day and West Avenue sees hundreds, Fairman said, he will – and did — order repairs to Philly Street first.

“I gotta take care of the ones that get the most traffic,” he said.

The two-block West Avenue job is scheduled to be resurfaced by Force Inc., the Indiana-based contractor hired to repair all 30 pothole projects for $132,000, Fairman said. The company has until Sept. 10 to complete the work – two weeks after the start of the university’s fall 2014 academic term.

               — by David Loomis

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