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Monroeville sinkhole work to begin during the next couple of months

| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Times Express
The view of a sink hole at the entrance to the Giant Eagle Shopping Center on Old William Penn Highway in Monroeville.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Time
Sink Hole at the entrance to the Giant Eagle Shopping Center on Old William Penn Highway in Monroeville. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Times Express

Filling a massive sinkhole in Monroeville has proven more complicated than officials first thought.

The sinkhole formed in September 2011 at the entrance of a Giant Eagle store on William Penn Highway. In May of last year, Monroeville engineer Paul Hugus — who said the project's completion relied on approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection — estimated that the sinkhole might be filled by October 2012.

That proved to be an overly optimistic estimate.

The property manager told municipal officials in an email last week that work is expected to begin in the next month or two and that the hole is expected to be filled by the end of this year.

A spokesperson for the Glimcher Group, which owns the property, declined comment for this story.

According to Monroeville Councilwoman Lois Drumheller, property manager Mary Paulo-Kozy said last year that the DEP had approved the project but that the Glimcher Group was seeking third-party funding because insurance would not cover the costs entirely.

Drumheller, who represents residents who live in the neighborhoods near the sinkhole, asked Paulo-Kozy last week for an update.

“The big concern during this crisis was primarily a safety issue, due to limited access in and out,” Drumheller wrote in an email. “As you know, no left-hand turn is allowed coming out from the only ingress/egress to the plaza.”

Paulo-Kozy responded with the following.

“We are finalizing contracts and expect to be back to work within the next 30-60 days. I anticipate that the work will be completed by the end of the year.”

Last fall, residents suggested placing an additional stop sign near the entrance to prevent an accident, but that never happened.

Hugus said at the time that a stop sign would require a traffic study and that once in place, it likely would become a permanent fixture. Monroeville Manager Lynette McKinney said this week that officials also were concerned that a stop sign would result in additional traffic on Route 22.

At least one Monroeville resident avoids the plaza ever since the hole materialized.

“I don't even go down there anymore because of the sink hole,” said Dorothy Hamilton, 77, who lives nearby on Illini Drive.

Drumheller said this week that residents she has spoken with are happy to learn that a deadline is in place.

“In my ongoing discussions with Ward 3 residents, they are most pleased to hear about this move forward, as am I,” Drumheller said.

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or klawson@tribweb.com.

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