Flooding may not hamper dredging at North Park Lake |

Flooding may not hamper dredging at North Park Lake

The flooding that refilled the North Park Lake in the midst of a dredging project didn’t damage the dam or the excavators and temporary roads contractors are using, Allegheny County officials said yesterday.

The lake could fill again as rain picks up today. The National Weather Service predicts 1 to 2 inches of rain and issued a flood watch for Allegheny and some surrounding counties starting this afternoon. The project is still on time, but a very wet winter could delay the project past May, county spokeswoman Megan Dardanell said.

“We’ll wait and see,” said Richard Myros, senior inspector with the county’s construction manager, Hill International. “I’m not worried anymore because we’ve been through this so many times. One inch of rain is perfectly manageable.”

Myros drove his truck without issue on dried portions of the project’s access roads, and workers from contractor Charles J. Merlo Inc. tested their excavators, finding no problems, he said. The lake drained about 2 to 3 feet yesterday, Dardanell said. There’s unlikely to be any damage under the shallow floodwater that remains and Merlo can likely work through it, Myros said.

“I think it looks pretty good myself,” he said. “I was expecting a lot worse.”

The problem began on Thanksgiving when 1.89 inches of rain walloped a 110-year-old record for the date by more than half an inch. Leaves and twigs made the problem worse by clogging the dam gate where water flows out into Pine Creek; but primarily the rain was just putting water into the lake faster than it could drain it, county officials said.

The lake nearly filled, leaving some of the big yellow diggers nearly submerged. Rain filled the lake once in the spring, too, Dardanell said.

An executive with Allison Park Contractors Inc., the contractor hired to stockpile sediment that Merlo removes, said the roads would be damaged and work likely would be delayed. Myros said that isn’t true. The project manager was not available for comment, said an official at Cambria County-based Merlo.

Merlo officials were off yesterday for the start of deer hunting season, and had been off last week for Thanksgiving during the flooding, Myros said. They built that holiday break into their work schedule, so the floods didn’t cause any added delay.

The project has had setbacks and disputes among Allison Park Contractors, Merlo and county officials. Sediment removed from the lake bed has been too waterlogged to safely compact on the dump site managed by Allison Park Contractors. County Executive Dan Onorato’s administration has asked County Council to add $3 million to the project.

County Council’s Public Works committee will meet Thursday with the Public Works director, Joseph A. Olczak, said Councilman Bob Macey, the chairman. The meeting will be primarily about the increased cost of the project, now estimated at $21 million, said Macey, D-West Mifflin.

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