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Officials eye remedy for collapsed pipe that caused Monroeville flood

| Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For Trib Total Media
Giant sink hole in the middle of the Shopping Center at Old William Penn Highway and Route 22 at College Park Drive.
Lillian DeDomenic | For Trib Total Media
Giant sink hole in the middle of the Shopping Center at Old William Penn Highway and Route 22 at College Park Drive.
Lillian DeDomenic | For Trib Total Media
Giant sink hole in the middle of the Shopping Center at Old William Penn Highway and Route 22 at College Park Drive.

Monroeville officials said a flood last week that trapped a woman in her Chevy Cavalier was the result of a collapsed drainage pipe under the Monroeville Plaza near William Penn Highway.

“The pipe rotted out, and with the debris getting down in there, it was restricting the flow of water,” Monroeville Public Works Director Mike Adams said.

Municipal officials will discuss whether to file a lawsuit against real estate firm Glimcher Group, in response to the failed storm water drainage system on Old William Penn Highway.

One of three things could happen, said Monroeville Councilman Ron Harvey, who also is the fire chief at Monroeville Volunteer Fire Company No. 5: “We can leave it like it is, and it's going to happen again; the property owner could get it fixed, or the municipality could fix it and sue the property owner for the money,” Harvey said.

Glimcher Group property manager Mary Kozy referred questions about the property to Pittsburgh-based attorney Jon Kamin, who could not be reached for comment, as of Tuesday.

Monroeville firefighters responded to reports Aug. 3 that a woman was trapped as water rose around her car.

Connie McClain, of Monroeville, said she attempted to drive through what looked like a small amount of water when her car stalled.

“There wasn't water rushing down street,” McClain said. “I could have walked out, but a couple people standing nearby told me to stay in the car.”

Harvey said the scenario was more dangerous than McClain thought, based on reports from firefighters at the scene.

“The top of the water might have looked OK,” said Harvey, “But the water was still trying to drain, so there was an undertow there.”

The collapse in the plaza parking lot occurred nearly three years after a sinkhole formed in the same parking lot.

The sinkhole — at least 30 feet deep and 30 feet wide — formed in September 2011 at the entrance of Giant Eagle and became an issue for residents who voiced their frustration at council meetings.

Officials called it a safety hazard, as drivers were making illegal turns out of the parking lot to avoid a detour.

Property owners fixed a portion of the pipe and filled the sinkhole last summer.

Harvey said all parties involved were fortunate that no one was hurt in last week's flooding.

“We're talking about a very dangerous situation,” Harvey said at an Aug. 7 council meeting. “And not just for motorists who drive through that intersection.”

McClain said insurance will cover the damage to her car and she doesn't plan to pursue legal action. “It was my fault for driving into the water,” she said.

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-871-2369 or klawson@tribweb.com.

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