Route 30 collapses in East Pittsburgh landslide, will be closed for months
A portion of Route 30 in East Pittsburgh plummeted about 40 feet down a steep hill early Saturday in a landslide that also took out an apartment building and threatened several others, officials said.
The slide occurred about 6 a.m., when a wall above Route 30 broke, said PennDOT District 11 Executive Cheryl Moon-Sirianni. Route 30 will be closed in both directions for at least two months as crews figure out how to repair the roadway, she said.
About 21,000 vehicles a day use that section of Route 30, according to PennDOT data. That area of Route 30, also known as the Lincoln Highway, is between Downtown Pittsburgh and the Westmoreland County line.
The Electric Avenue Apartments building was occupied at the time but no one was injured, Moon-Sirianni said.
"Everyone is safe, all workers are safe and all traveling public is safe. That's our biggest concern right now is the safety of everyone," Moon-Sirianni said.
PennDOT closed the eastbound lanes at 1 p.m. Friday because of the road buckling. Two apartment buildings were evacuated.
The remaining four apartment buildings, all in East Pittsburgh, along with a house where a family lives and a business in North Braddock were evacuated Saturday morning after the slide, said Steve Cowan, PennDOT spokesman.
In all, 31 people have been evacuated from 29 apartment units, Moon-Sirianni said. It could be weeks before they can move back.
In the meantime, some are staying with family, while PennDOT is paying for the rest to stay in the area and for their basic needs, Moon-Sirianni said.
Cowan declined to disclose where the displaced residents are staying.
Residents could move back into some of the apartment buildings after crews remove soil, Moon-Sirianni said.
Issues with Route 30 started about a week ago, but officials did not know it was a landslide until they performed geotechnical drilling, Moon-Sirianni said. They originally thought it was an issue with drainage.
ROAD COLLAPSE: A portion of Route 30 in East Pittsburgh collapsed after a landslide caused the road to buckle. Nearby residents have been evacuated and three apartment buildings and at least one home were damaged, according to authorities. https://t.co/POUzRJfmVt pic.twitter.com/5dmOA8KzAM— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) April 7, 2018
"It was sinking before, but we never imagined the magnitude that it was a landslide," she said. "The wall was holding up the whole entire hillside, and when the pressure got too strong the wall broke."
Drilling will continue as officials decide on a solution.
Traffic was being detoured from Route 30 onto Electric Avenue, but Moon-Sirianni said PennDOT was planning to change the detours, partly because of drivers speeding on Electric Avenue while crews were working.
North Braddock, East Pittsburgh, PennDOT and the state have issued emergency declarations, which will allow them to hire contractors faster without the normal bidding process, Moon-Sirianni said.
"This area is very prone to landslides," Moon-Sirianni said. "We have some of the best engineers who have worked on many other solutions working on this one, too."
The borough has not had issues with landslides along Route 30 before last week, East Pittsburgh police Chief Lori Payne said.
More residents along Electric Avenue might have to relocate because they may lose power, Payne said.
Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5669, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @tclift.