Motorists and residents in Peters are bracing for some big changes in the coming weeks, including the closing of a busy Route 19 intersection and a possible new ordinance regulating the Marcellus Shale gas industry in the township.
Council members Monday heard from township manager Michael Silvestri, who warned that traffic would likely become bad as a result of a major reconstruction project at the intersection of Route 19 and Valleybrook Road.
Slated to begin May 15 with the closure of the connection between Route 19 and Valleybrook and Old Washington roads, the entire intersection, including the roadway beneath the Valleybrook bridge, is expected to be closed by early June. It likely will remain closed through the summer.
More than 11,000 vehicles use Valleybrook Road each day, Mr. Silvestri said.
"McMurray Road is going to be getting the brunt of it," said Mr. Silvestri about detoured traffic.
With four schools, a police and a fire department located on McMurray, "we think that's going to be a problem," he said.
Mr. Silvestri presented an impact plan that could include installing temporary stop signs and other measures aimed at reducing traffic in affected neighborhoods.
Those that have been identified as possibly needing new or adjusted signalization include the intersections between: Thompsonville and Hoover roads; Rock Run, Proffer and Gallery roads; Center Church and Willhaven roads; and Marion and Pleasants roads.
Mr. Silvestri is expected to meet with state Department of Transportation officials in early May to make a final determination about detours and new traffic signals. He is expected to update council at that time.
A project to install a new pedestrian bridge on the Montour and Arrowhead trails across Valleybrook Road is expected to be coordinated with the closing of the intersection, Mr. Silvestri said.
Also Monday, Councilman David Ball said he wanted council to consider adopting an ordinance regulating seismic testing, as gas well drilling inches closer to the border of the township. Though there has been no drilling yet in Peters, there likely will be soon, Mr. Ball said.
"It's going to be a big problem here," Mr. Ball said about seismic testing, done by drilling companies to determine the depth and location of Marcellus Shale formations, usually with the use of dynamite or so-called "thumper" trucks, which use vibration to pinpoint natural gas reserves.
Residents in nearby municipalities, including South Fayette and Cecil, have reported hearing loud pounding noises from the testing. South Fayette has a seismic testing regulation that prohibits the use of explosives.
Council members said they were especially concerned about seismic testing and drilling set to take place near the township border with North Strabane, on Cheslock Road. The Peters Lake dam is 3,500 feet from the proposed drill site, according to a drilling application sent to the state Department of Environmental Protection by Range Resources. Council members said they were unsure whether the dam could be damaged by drilling or seismic testing.
Council is expected to begin debating the issue at its April 22 meeting.
In other business, council:
• Accepted a $774,151 bid from El Grande Industries of Donora for the township's 2013 paving projects.
• After a brief public hearing, approved an intermunicipal liquor license transfer for Aladdin's Eatery in Lakeside Plaza. Opened last week, the restaurant specializes in Lebanese-American food and will serve beer and wine.
• Agreed to send letters to people living near Venetia Road and the border with Nottingham, where a new coal mine may soon be opened, near the former 84 Mine. The township will advise residents to obtain mine subsidence insurance.