While PennDOT and local authorities are dealing with a destructive landslide that collapsed a stretch of Route 30 near East Pittsburgh and forced 30 people from their homes, the city of Pittsburgh continues to address a “record year for landslides” in the city.
“The city has knowledge of over a dozen locations that are very prone to landslides. And what we have been doing is monitoring each of those locations several times a day,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.
He added that if monitoring and testing shows a slide is imminent “we will remove anybody who may be in harm's way.”
This week, PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards visited Pittsburgh and commended evacuation efforts along Route 30, saying, "it really makes me feel good knowing that there is not one injury."
The mayor cited the recent record rainfall, the freeze-thaw cycle and an underground occurrence for the increase in landslides. They're the same issues that have caused a significant number of potholes this season, too.
“An underlying problem on Route 30 which is also a problem within the city is we've had a record number of water breaks and the water breaks serve as a loosening of the ground underneath,” according to Peduto.
Crews have been monitoring and then responding to landslides, but Peduto said a permanent solution is not possible without removing the hillsides.
“All of that dirt can either be retained by walls or be removed by backhoes, but you’re talking hundreds of thousands of tons of dirt," he said.
According to Peduto, retaining walls can cost millions of dollars.
“In some areas like a busy highway corridor, it is warranted," he said. "In other areas, the cost cannot be ever made up. Even the cost of [cleaning up] a landslide would be less than building the wall itself.”
Peduto says the city is already five times over budget for dealing with landslides and it's only April.