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State stepping in to stabilize compromised mines under Monroeville businesses

Dillon Carr
| Friday, Dec. 15, 2017, 5:00 p.m.
This state store in Monroeville was closed Dec. 12, reopened, and now is shut down for good because it is on unstable ground caused by a compromised mine.
Dillon Carr | Tribune-Review
This state store in Monroeville was closed Dec. 12, reopened, and now is shut down for good because it is on unstable ground caused by a compromised mine.

The state has launched an emergency project to stabilize ground under Monroeville businesses along Northern Pike that were deemed unsafe and closed for a short time last week because of compromised mines beneath them.

The stabilization project will involve filling the mines with cement, Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Lauren Fraley said. The work will be done by the department's Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation.

“They anticipate undertaking drilling and grouting in early January,” she said.

Problems at the complex at 3845 Northern Pike started Dec. 11 when Monroeville police received a call that businesses there “look slanted.” The building houses a Fine Wine and Good Spirits store, Five Guys restaurant and dentist and orthodontist practices.

Monroeville building inspector Paul Hugus deemed the area unsafe because of “mine subsidence” — which is ground movement caused by the collapse or failure of underground mines, according to the DEP. Danger signs were posted in windows and police tape was put up around the businesses after they were closed.

The restaurant reopened the next day, and the state store opened two days later. The dental practice was cleared to open Dec. 16.

Monroeville Manager Tim Little said after the initial closure by the municipality, the decision on whether the buildings were safe to open was left to engineers hired by the building owner, Cozza Enterprises. The engineering firm inspected the buildings and cleared the reopening of the businesses, company owner Craig Cozza said.

Cozza, whose company owns several buildings around Pittsburgh, said problems like this are common because of all the mines in the region. Forecasting when you might have a problem, however, is more dicey.

“It's funny, because that building has sat there for about 50 years without anything happening,” Cozza said. “In Monroeville, it's always a good idea to have mine subsidence insurance.”

Cozza said damage from the mine incident is minimal: some cracked concrete and a column in front of the dental practice that sank a couple inches.

“Thank God it's not that exciting,” Cozza said.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2325, or via Twitter @dillonswriting. Staff writer Michael Divittorio contributed to this report.

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