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McArdle Roadway reopens after cleanup from 3rd landslide in year

| Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, 11:08 a.m.
P.J. McArdle Roadway is closed this morning Thursday January 10, 2013 after an early morning landslide covered the road on Mount Washington. Pittsburgh public works crews were removing what they called a rootball and expected to have the road opened before the afternoon rush. James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
P.J. McArdle Roadway is closed this morning Thursday January 10, 2013 after an early morning landslide covered the road on Mount Washington. Pittsburgh public works crews were removing what they called a rootball and expected to have the road opened before the afternoon rush. James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Rising temperatures helped trigger a landslide on Thursday that closed McArdle Roadway for the third time in the past year, fueling concerns more such occurrences are on the way as the warming continues.

“It's a blessing to a lot of people when temperatures warm up, but it's a curse in disguise, too,” said Pittsburgh Public Works Director Rob Kaczorowski.

Kaczorowski said rain and rising temperatures that melted much of the recent snow helped soak the ground. More rain and 60-plus-degree temperatures are forecast this weekend.

Kaczorowski said crews will closely monitor conditions on the city's most slide-prone hillsides, including ones along McArdle, Noblestown Road, Oakland Square and Sassafras Way.

Kaczorowski said crews spotted what he described as a minor slide on the hillside above McArdle about 6 a.m. Thursday. Debris piled up behind a retaining wall but did not fall onto the road. Crews closed McArdle about 8 a.m. and removed three truckloads of debris as a precaution. The road reopened by 10 a.m.

A minor slide also closed the upper section of McArdle, a main thoroughfare between Mt. Washington's Grandview Avenue and the Liberty Tunnels, on Dec. 21. McArdle was closed for several months when a Jan. 9, 2012, landslide dumped more than 100 tons of debris on the road.

Allegheny County Acting Public Works Director Phillip LaMay said county crews are monitoring at least a half-dozen areas, including hillsides along Pitcairn Road in Monroeville, Homestead-Duquesne Road in Munhall, Campbell's Run Road in Robinson, Greensburg Pike in Wilkins and Mount Troy Road Extension in Ross.

“These are all roads that are slated for capital projects in the next couple of years. No sooner will we be in construction on these when other roads will pop up as problems,” LaMay said. “It's a constant battle.”

Kaczorowski and LaMay also expect crews to deal with a rash of potholes because of the sudden thaw.

“Even though the snow's not flying, there are still issues popping up,” LaMay said.

The Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority and Pennsylvania American Water Co. said this week the thaw also increases the likelihood of water main breaks.

Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

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