County moves ahead with next phase of fairgrounds entrance project

Barbara Miller

Observer Reporter

Washington County commissioners Thursday approved the receipt of a $742,000 grant related to the renovation of the trolley-stop fairgrounds entrance in Arden, Chartiers Township.

Federal tax dollars are being funneled through PennDOT for the grant to the county. PennDOT retains the rest for its administrative costs, such as reviewing plans and making inspections.

It’s known as “Phase II.” Replacement of the bridge over the Chartiers Creek tributary at the fairgrounds entrance next to the parking area along Old Hickory Ridge Road was labeled “Phase I.”

Commissioner Vice Chairman Diana Irey Vaughan and Commissioner Harlan Shober agreed to move forward with the project by a 2-0 vote. Commission Chairman Larry Maggi was absent.

The commissioners also entered into a $41,000 agreement with Pennsylvania Trolley Museum to purchase materials and repair and move tracks, signals and the overhead trolley wires at the fairgrounds trolley stop to accommodate a bigger platform at the entrance.

The trolley museum will provide volunteer labor to complete the work.

“It’s just easier for the trolley museum – they know what they need – to go get it and we reimburse them,” said Lisa Cessna, executive director of Washington County Planning Commission, which oversees the fairgrounds.

During the fair, trolleys provide shuttle service from far-flung parking lots and offer a nostalgic look back to transportation that was once a staple in the area.

The board also approved a $66,340 contract with A&A Consultants Inc. of McKees Rocks, the project’s designer, to inspect construction at the trolley-stop entrance.

Inspections and the trolley museum’s costs will be paid from the Local Share Account of gambling revenue generated at The Meadows Racetrack and Casino and state Greenways funds.

The bridge-replacement project is to be completed by July, and the second phase of the work can begin as soon as the county issues a notice to proceed after the annual Washington County Fair, which is scheduled for Aug. 11-18.

Other major draws, such as the Pennsylvania Arts and Crafts festivals in the fall and spring, will have to take place around the renovations, Cessna said.

“There’s no way to avoid impacting all the events at the fairgrounds,” she said.

In another item of business related to the planning commission, the board approved an easement so a 35-foot pipeline can be bored beneath the Panhandle Trail in Smith Township.

The county, which has prohibited impact to the trail surface related to the pipeline project, is to be paid $15,000.