Pittsburgh, PA - On Wednesday, August 25, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA), the City of Pittsburgh, partners, and community members gathered to celebrate the start of construction on the Thomas and McPherson Stormwater Project in North Point Breeze.
The construction investment of $4.42 million will build new stormwater infrastructure under the wide medians of Thomas and McPherson boulevards and on North Dallas Avenue, North Linden Avenue, and Starling Way. It also coordinates the replacement of aging water mains along McPherson Boulevard and replace all public and private lead service lines along McPherson Boulevard between Fifth Avenue and North Dallas Avenue and along North Linden from McPherson to Thomas boulevards. PWSA synchronized the stormwater, water main, and lead service line improvements in this neighborhood to minimize construction disruptions and more efficiently manage costs.
“Pittsburgh is routinely impacted by intense and frequent storms that fall upon our region. Sustainable, green projects like Thomas and McPherson are needed in our communities to mitigate the effects of stormwater,” said Mayor William Peduto. “By making these green-first investments, we can better protect our neighborhoods, plan for climate change, and improve the quality of life for Pittsburgh residents.”
By installing a system of new storm inlets, permeable pavers, and underground gravel storage, PWSA will slow the amount of water entering the combined sewer system and reduce the burden on existing infrastructure during storms. This will help to reduce local flooding, neighborhood basement sewage backups, and overflows of combined stormwater and sewage into the Allegheny River.
“As the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority takes on more responsibility to manage stormwater, green solutions will remain an important strategy of our growing stormwater program,” said Will Pickering, PWSA’s Chief Executive Officer. “The Thomas and McPherson project is a prime example of how we can work with the existing landscape of a neighborhood, coordinate infrastructure solutions and make the necessary investment to provide essential stormwater protection.”
Green Stormwater Solutions at Work
Storm inlets along the street will capture and direct rainwater into gravel storage systems installed under the medians of Thomas and McPherson Boulevards and along North Dallas Avenue. These layers of small stones contain empty spaces, called voids, that allow water to flow through and fill up the space. Underground gravel storage is ideal for urban environments because it can support the weight of paving and vehicles.
This project will also use permeable pavers in some areas to direct rainwater into underground gravel storage. Permeable pavers, which look like bricks, are designed to allow water to soak through their cracks. Permeable paver parking lanes with underground gravel storage will be constructed at North Linden Avenue, and Starling Way will be transformed into a “green alley” using permeable pavers and underground gravel storage.
The Thomas and McPherson project is designed to manage stormwater within an area of 17.7 acres and manage 470,000 gallons of stormwater runoff.
Construction Activity Underway
The Thomas and McPherson Stormwater Project was designed by Wade Trim and will be constructed by Frank J. Zottola Construction, Inc. with construction management by Michael Baker International. PWSA coordinated with the City of Pittsburgh’s Forestry Division to protect healthy mature street trees during design and construction. Partial funding for the project is provided by the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN) Green Revitalization of Our Waterways (GROW) grant program.
Construction crews from Frank J. Zottola Construction, Inc. began mobilizing construction on Monday, August 16 to begin stormwater infrastructure renovations on portions of Thomas Boulevard. Construction will be split into phases to minimize disruption to the entire neighborhood. Crews will be working on Thomas Boulevard through fall 2021. Starting in spring 2022, construction will continue along McPherson Boulevard, North Linden Avenue, North Dallas Avenue, and Starling Way. Construction is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2022, weather pending.
The construction hours are Monday through Thursday from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM; Friday will serve as a make-up day. Traffic detours will be posted, and flaggers will be on site to help direct traffic. No parking signs will be posted where active construction work is taking place.
Project updates are available at www.pgh2o.com/thomas-and-mcpherson.