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Engineering Team Assesses Allentown Landslide, Investigation Underway To Find Cause

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- It's a sea of mud along Arlington Avenue in the city's Allentown section after a landslide began coming down a steep hill Wednesday evening.

City leaders sent out an engineering team Thursday to assess the situation and determine if they need to close Arlington Avenue due to the shifting hillside.

A steady stream of water is coming down the hill behind the road, bringing down large amounts of mud and debris from the backyards up above on McLain Street.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

The city's Chief Operations Officer Guy Costa said crews need to determine the source of the water and whether its from the street above, a mine, broken pipe or a spring.

"I'm amazed," said Tracey Thomas, resident. "It's not like it wasn't going to happen. It was going to happen."

KDKA talked to Thomas just hours after the slide began and police officers filled her street. She said she thinks it all stems from a years-long problem regarding the retaining wall.

"When they re-did Arlington Avenue, they didn't build the wall up high enough to contain the hillside," said Thomas.

She fears that the slide will not just take out the two homes directly below her street, but also create a domino effect down the street.

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority began its investigation early Thursday to try to determine if one of its lines is broken and causing the steady flow of water.

The "road closed" signs are at the ready on the sidewalk, and the tenants of at least two out of three of the homes are now finding a new place to stay.

"As long as the roadways safe, it will be open, but if there's a situation where the hillside moves, we'll have to close down Arlington," said Costa.

Watch John Shumway's report --


The Allentown slide has become an all too familiar sight in western Pennsylvania over the past year. Excessive rain has caused numerous slides and destroyed homes.

"We have a route perhaps 20 locations that the inspectors are going out and watching," Pittsburgh Mobility and Infrastructure Director Karina Ricks said.

She says List, Diana, Landers, Williams and Swinburn streets are just some they are watching, and they're now adding Arlington Avenue to that list.

Ricks says residents need to keep a wary eye on the hillside and watch for water flowing where it hasn't before or signs of cracking or slippage, and notify the Pittsburgh 311 line if you notice something.

Meanwhile, she says the city remains vigilant.

"We have a number of our contractors on call to respond to any incidences that requires excavation or other kinds of emergency responses related to the slopes," she said.


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