columbia gas volunteers

Neighbors in the Fruithurst/Sleepy Hollow area of Sunset Hills breathed a sigh of relief when the Columbia Gas yellow bobcats that had lined their streets for months moved out in May. People on parts of Bower Hill Road and Iroquois Drive, also streets where Columbia Gas had worked since last summer, no doubt felt the same.

Residents knew the natural gas infrastructure upgrade would provide better, safer service in the future; still the occasional service disruption, lane closing and noise that lasted many months was at times a frustration for people like Kelly and David Schraven, who live at the corner of Fruithurst and Sleepy Hollow. The Schravens gave permission for Columbia to store heavy equipment on their property so as to expedite the project; still, it became tiresome to look out at their muddy corner and ruined grass, Kelly says.

Columbia concluded work on the first phase of the project in May and began restoring the affected properties in June. “Our policy is to restore property to equal or better condition than when we found it, in accordance with [municipal]standards,” says Columbia spokesperson Brynnley Schwartz. For the most part, that meant putting down new topsoil, planting grass and adding mushroom mulch.

“If the grass doesn’t grow back properly or if there are any concerns about the restoration work please contact us,” she says. “Sometimes with the fickle weather (extreme thunderstorms for a few days, then too dry and hot the next) it makes it difficult for grass to grow. We will keep working at it until we get it right. We also recommend customers keep an eye on their grass seed and water it regularly. We use mushroom manure to help it grow, but the customer may need to check up on it to help it along.”

As summer got under way, however, good news for these streets meant not so good news for others. Columbia has moved on to a $1.5 million project along Segar Road, a different part of Bower Hill Road, Corace Drive and Parkview Drive, replacing more than a mile of existing steel pipe with plastic pipe. That project will continue at least through the end of this month with about 70 customers experiencing temporary service interruption as they are connected to the new gas main.

The Mt. Lebanon improvements are part of a $6.6 million investment in natural gas infrastructure this year. Columbia Gas will show its appreciation for residents’ patience by bringing its “Project Cleanup” to Mt. Lebanon Park on Saturday, August 16, in partnership with WISH 99.7 radio. Columbia employees have volunteered to do things such as paint the locker room and lobby of the Ice Center, stain a park shelter, plant flowers and pull weeds. WISH will promote the effort on air but also will set up on site with its ice cream truck in the parking lot and grills set up in shelter 1, providing hotdogs for the volunteers and anyone else in the area.

More volunteers are needed. If you can help on August 16, call Mt. Lebanon’s public information office at 412-343-3407 or email