A municipality paves a road. Six months later a utility company has to make essential repairs and to do so must access the infrastructure under the road, digging up the newly paved road. This scenario is all too common, and it is both expensive and frustrating for both parties, as well as for the residents who are inconvenienced.
With 130 municipalities, dozens of utility companies, and numerous authorities all operating in Allegheny County—and a network of aging infrastructure in constant need of repair—avoiding costly duplication and inefficient investment in construction and reconstruction is a daunting task.
In 2015, our member municipalities brought forth this issue to CONNECT’s Executive Committee. Following initial discussions, CONNECT served as the host for two Utilities Summits that brought together representatives of the CONNECT municipalities and the major utility companies to identify ways toreduce duplication of road repair. What emerged from was a commitment on behalf of all parties to work collaboratively to determine how to better coordinate infrastructure planning, and a charge for CONNECT to continue to host regular meetings to bring stakeholders together to coordinate planning, and identify and to procure a common data platform that municipalities and utilities can utilize to electronically track their paving plans so they can identify opportunities for collaboration. The image directly to the right was taken at CONNECT's First Utilities Summit in March 2015 (left to right: Kathy Pape, President of PA American Water; David Borneman, Director of Engineering at ALCOSAN; Kenneth Johnston, COO at Peoples Natural Gas; and, Steve Craig, Board Member of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission).
Much progress has been made towards the selection of the data platform, an official announcement regarding the selection of the platform is forthcoming, and CONNECT has continued to host face-to-face meetups with municipalities and utilities to foster these important relationships. The most recent Meetup held on September 22, 2016, attracted more than 50 attendees to discuss collaboration opportunities and the proposed data platform. Substantial savings on both sides have already been realized and lines of communication have been developed.
PA One Call, Columbia Gas, Peoples Natural Gas, Pennsylvania American Water, Duquesne Light, West View Water Authority, PennDot, Allegheny County, Comcast, Hampton/Shaler Water Authority, PWSA and SPC have all been active partners in this effort.
Left-side photo: Discussion panel at the Second Utilities Summit. From left to right: Michael Lamb, Controller of the City of Pittsburgh; Julie Bastianini, Manager at Edgewood Borough; Mark Kempic, President of Columbia Gas; and, Matt Macek, Pittsburgh District Superintendent of Field Operations at Pennsylvania American Water. Right-side photo: Breakout group made up of southern region municipalities and utility companies.
CONNECT/Utility Biannual Meetups
While CONNECT continues its efforts to procure a common data platform for its members and utilities, we continue to host biannual, face-to-face meetings in order to find projects and areas of collaboration through the sharing of current or multi-year plans with one another. These meetings have proved to be tremendously valuable in terms of finding points of contact between these agencies and local governments, and building important relationships that foster opportunity over conflict.
To find out more about future meetups, visit our Events page.
Click on the image above to access the Center for Metropolitan Studies’ policy paper. Infrastructure Coordination: Engaging Regional Players in Collaborative Utility Repair and Road Reconstruction.