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Magee Road shift worries Sewickley Hills resident

| Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

A portion of Magee Road in Sewickley Hills has resident James Schwartz worried.

Since July, Schwartz said, sections of the roadway about 400 feet south of Parkview Drive have been cracking and shifting.

In one portion, the roadway cracked and dropped about 2 inches. The drop runs a few feet long.

Schwartz said he is worried that the road — which borders a hillside — will continue separating and dropping.

“I don't give a damn about it coming down in my yard,” he said. “I just don't want a school bus full of kids coming down with it.”

Allegheny County public works director Steve Johnson blamed the crack on a construction project in the 1970s.

“The crack at the upper Magee Road site is caused by a 1970 berm-paving project when the road was widened by 2 feet on both sides and repairs (were) made to a localized base problem and minor rutting of the road.”

Johnson said the “longitudinal crack corresponds directly with the widening reflecting up through the asphalt.”

Johnson said there is “no evidence of any movement outside the paved areas.”

Crews last checked the area in July, Johnson said.

After the Sewickley Herald's inquiry, an engineer was sent to investigate the roadway on Monday. Information from that investigation was not known before the Herald's print deadline.

Johnson said the portion of Magee Road near Schwartz's property has nothing in common with a project on a lower portion of the roadway near Blackburn Road.

“The recently completed project on lower Magee remediated subsidence caused by underground springs,” he said. “The springs eroded the soils 20 feet below the surface, which caused the road to subside.

“We removed all the soils and installed a deep subsurface drain. Every time the road subsided, we placed more asphalt down to level out the road. The spring waters would carry the soils to the adjacent stream.”

Seven Quaker Valley School District bus routes travel the road in the morning and afternoon, spokeswoman Tina Vojtko said.

“None of these drivers, who travel this road daily, have expressed any concern about the condition of the road,” she said. “Most have enjoyed the fact that Magee Road has just recently been opened near the intersection of Blackburn Road.”

Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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