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Oustide firm to probe collapse

| Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2007, 12:00 p.m.

The city and Allegheny County will hire an outside engineering firm to inspect the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and assess the building's safety following the collapse of a concrete slab yesterday.

"There's a major mistake that was made somewhere," county Chief Executive Dan Onorato said this morning during a news conference with Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. "This should never have happened."

The 20-by-60-foot slab fell shortly before 2 p.m. yesterday while a tractor-trailer was atop it inside the Downtown building's second-floor loading area. The truck partially fell through the floor and a large forklift fell all the way through to a walkway 30 feet below.

No one was injured.

The city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority, which owns the building, is waiting for the arrival of the architect, engineer and contractors who built the $370 million center to inspect the building and discuss its future.

Authority Executive Director Mary Conturo said the center has insurance, but officials have not yet been able to meet with representatives from the insurer to determine what is covered.

Onorato and Ravenstahl said they have not yet chosen the outside engineer, and it hasn't been determined who will pay for that firm's work.

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