Potholes have long provided Pittsburgh a rich vein to mine for jokes and complaints. So when a sinkhole downtown swallowed a Port Authority bus two weeks ago—unaccompanied, thankfully, by serious injuries or fatalities—it was pure gold for wags and Halloween costumes alike.
For utility companies, it set off a flurry of infrastructure work.
Underneath the pavement at 10th Street and Penn Avenue it’s a who’s-who of utilities: water and storm sewer lines, gas lines, thermal tunnels, high-voltage electric wires and fiber-optic cables. A daily conference call organized by the mayor’s office has allowed the affected utilities to coordinate work schedules.
It is still unclear what weakened the soil under the street and caused the sinkhole in the first place. A spokesperson for Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority said they found a broken storm sewer line and a service line amid the debris. However, they don’t know whether the damage occurred before or because of the sinkhole.
All parties are still working out who will pay for what and exactly when the street will re-open. Authorities initially estimated the repairs would take six to eight weeks.