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A Conversation with Cheryl Moon-Sirianni, PE, District Executive, PennDOT District 11

Thursday, April 19, 2018 9:30 AM | Anonymous

What we learned: It has been a long winter. If you think it has been a long and unending winter, you are right. At least according to resident expert on the region’s winter-weary roads, Cheryl Moon-Sirianni, District Executive, PennDOT District 11. She confirmed what we all know to be true – we had the wettest February on record, and it snowed on every single holiday since December, draining maintenance budgets and our winter spirits.

Yet, Cheryl’s grace and sense of humor inspired and uplifted members and guests of the Society of Women Environmental Professionals – Three Rivers Chapter at as we continued our “Conversation With…” series. Speaking to a full house on a cold, snowy day in April, Cheryl brought to life the immense responsibility that rests upon PennDOT employees and gave us a better understanding of the importance of our transportation network to our regions quality of life and economy. PennDOT District 11 includes over 2500 miles of state highway, 1800 bridges, and four tunnels in Allegheny, Beaver, and Lawrence counties. With almost 2000 square miles and over 1.5 million people living in the District, it is also home to several major population centers, such as the City of Pittsburgh, that attract hundreds of thousands of commuters every day.

The Three Rivers story is one of bridges: Cheryl discussed the strides the  state has made to replace state-owned bridges (District 11 reduced the number of deficient bridges from 600 in 2006 to 214 in 2017). While this reduction is significant, it does not tell the whole story and much remains to be done. The Transportation Bill, Act 89, provided additional revenue, but the presence of large river crossings in District 11 places increased stresses on its budget. For instance, Highland Park Bridge and the Tarentum Bridge were last rehabilitated in the 1980’s but there remain many more critical structures such as the McKees Rocks Bridge, which is over a mile long and will have much greater rehabilitation costs. Failure to maintain this important traffic conduit would be a devastating blow to the local and regional economy.

Yes – there are a lot of potholes. This winter season has taken its toll on our roads, and this could be the worst season for winter maintenance. PennDOT personnel are working overtime because of the amount and timing of snowfall over the last several months. As PennDOT maintenance crews have repaired roads with cold-patch as an interim fix until asphalt season begins, the weather has repeatedly responded with even more rain, counteracting repair efforts. Rain, rain, and more rain coupled with freeze/thaw cycles have added to pothole misery. 

Relationships are important.  As Cheryl reflected on her career of public service, she shared that the most enjoyable, and perhaps important, part of the job are the relationships and partnerships that she has nurtured.  The resulting strong ties Cheryl has developed over the years were evident as she went through the room, greeting many by name and speaking to individual accomplishments from the stage.

Cheryl’s advice for young women? Take chances early on in your career. Get involved with professional groups and network as much as possible. Take on challenges at work and ask for opportunities. 

Thank you to Cheryl and to everyone who attended this event. SWEP Three Rivers has thoroughly enjoyed hosting the “Conversation With” series and we are privileged to have the opportunity to connect professional women in the Pittsburgh region with successful women leaders. The generous support of our event sponsorsJMT (Platinum), GAI Consultants (Gold), Dawood Engineering (Bronze), Markosky Engineering Group (Bronze), and Williams (Student) – made this event a success and we truly appreciate their support.


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