Construction crews are working around the clock to rebuild a section of Route 30 in East Pittsburgh, about 10 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The road has been closed since April 7, when it collapsed due to a landslide.
PennDOT officials said Monday they hope to complete rebuilding the hillside and the road by the end of June, though it may be later.
Like a lot of roads in the region, Route 30 was built directly on top of a hillside, which gave way under the onslaught of this year's rain. More than 39,000 cubic yards of slide material have been hauled away and replaced with stone.
More than 30,000 motorists travel Route 30 every day, according to PennDOT. Restoring the artery from the eastern suburbs is critical, said Chuck Niederriter, chief operating officer for project contractor Golden Triangle Construction.
“We’re working seven 12s,” he said, explaining that his crews work 24 hours a day in two shifts. “It’s showing like we’re going to get there, so let’s just keep our fingers crossed that nothing comes up.”
The stones that now form the hillside could hold their own shape and form, said Niederriter, but a retaining wall of galvanized steel provides added protection. Crews have sunk the beams about 21 feet into the ground and will soon drive steel anchors through those beams and into the bedrock.
Normally, it would take much longer for PennDOT and its contractors to get materials so quickly. But a number of manufacturers — including a plant in Ellwood City — worked exclusively on PennDOT’s order.
Niederriter said the scope of the project is unique, as are its circumstances.
“We generally don’t have houses and apartments below us,” he said. “That’s the shame of it, that people had to move out.”
One apartment building was destroyed after the slide, and others were evacuated. Some of the 31 people that were displaced are still living out of hotels paid for by Allegheny County. PennDOT District 11 executive Cheryl Moon-Sirianni said they won’t move people back into the affected apartment buildings until it’s safe to do so.
“We’re trying to make it as comfortable as we can for them, but they’re being extremely patient and we appreciate their patience,” she said. “None of us here would like to be in that situation, so we’re working hard to get them back.”
The cost of the entire project is expected to be between $10 and $12 million. While a mix of state and federal funding has been provided so far, PennDOT and Allegheny County are pursuing additional funding sources.