Murrysville homeowners seek help for Claridge Road runoff woes
Several Claridge Road residents want something done about their storm-water runoff problems, but municipal and state officials are pointing fingers at each other when it comes to which is responsible for fixing them.
Mike Lancaster and his family moved into a home in the Murrysville section of Claridge Road in 2009.
“Within a year, there was one of those super-cell type of storms, and our garage filled up with about 4 feet of water,” Lancaster said.
Next door to the Lancasters, longtime resident Diane Burns also has dealt with a host of runoff problems.
“When it starts to rain heavily, it just starts coming over top of my driveway,” said Burns, who grew up in her home on the 5000 block of Claridge Road.
“It’s a problem for people all along the road, but all my neighbors are doing what they can to divert their water to me, and there’s nothing I can do with it,” Burns told Murrysville council last month.
Burns lives in what might be called a “bathtub” section of Claridge Road, the lowest point between two hills. She has installed a French drain that is about a foot wide and more than 50 feet long on the northern side of her property but said even it cannot handle the runoff she receives.
Lancaster said shortly after moving in, he had a two-ton earth mound installed on the front of his property to try to push water back toward the road.
“But we’ve still gotten some water in the garage over the years,” he said.
Efforts to address the situation have left both Burns and Lancaster frustrated.
Murrysville chief administrator Jim Morrison said the Claridge runoff problems have been an issue for two decades. He told council that he has approached PennDOT and state legislators about it.
“The state does not recognize that they have a responsibility for storm-water management on that street,” he said.
PennDOT Spokeswoman Valerie Petersen took the opposite position.
“The drainage on that section of (Claridge) is located in Murrysville, and it is Murrysville’s to maintain by state law,” Petersen said. “They control the building permits, which controls the runoff.”
State Rep. Eli Evankovich (R-Murrysville) said his office has “been trying to get Murrysville and PennDOT to come to an agreement for the last three years.
“I don’t think anyone disagrees that there’s a problem that needs fixed,” he said. “My personal opinion is that PennDOT, while they have a legal basis to stand on for their decision, ultimately should be the ones responsible for local drainage on roads that they own.”
Lancaster characterized his attempts to find a solution as “kind of comical.”
“I contacted PennDOT and they wouldn’t do anything about it,” he said. “I contacted Evankovich, and he came out and basically said the state should be fixing it.”
Shortly afterward, Lancaster said, municipal officials proposed the construction of two catch basins on his and Burns’ side of the road, which would be linked to existing storm drains on the opposite side.
“But PennDOT wouldn’t pay for the work,” he said. “That’s the No. 1 problem here: We don’t have any storm drains on our side of the road.”
Patrick Varine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-871-2365 or [email protected].