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Jury awards Shaler man $3.75 million for land seized by PennDOT

| Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, 6:21 p.m.

An Allegheny County jury this week awarded a Shaler man $3.75 million for the former Millvale Industrial Park site that was taken through eminent domain as part of the Route 28 expansion.

PennDOT offered Andrew Lang, 67, $2 million for his property that bordered Route 28. Lang thought his property was worth $12 million. He filed suit against PennDOT, and a jury issued the award on Wednesday, according to his attorney, Maurice Nernberg.

“We're satisfied with the amount, but I can't say we're ruling out an appeal,” Nernberg said. “(PennDOT) never offered him enough money. There's not a whole lot of negotiation with PennDOT.”

PennDOT spokesman Steve Chizmar declined to comment.

PennDOT took the property, located between the 31st Street and 40th Street bridges, in 2009. It later paid Lang $2 million. The ruling means the agency will owe Lang $1.75 million plus interest, Nernberg said.

Lang has owned the property since 1971 and leased space to businesses.

“He bought this property in his 20s. He built it up and got it occupied,” Nernberg said.

Lang's lawsuit was not the only litigation the Route 28 project has sparked.

Sheriff's deputies forced William Lieberth Sr., 57, of West Deer out of his business, Allegheny Auto Body, in October after he fought a lengthy battle with the state and lost in that eminent domain seizure.

Lieberth's eviction last fall removed the final roadblock in a $120 million project by PennDOT to remake Route 28 as a four-lane, limited-access highway with no traffic signals between Pittsburgh and Kittanning. The route channels 60,000 motorists daily through the North Side.

The project required PennDOT to buy all or part of 166 properties and relocate at least 15 residents and 24 businesses. It is scheduled to be completed in late 2014.

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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