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Pittsburgh Botanic Garden parking lot closed due to a collapse

Pittsburgh Botanic Garden parking lot closed due to a collapse
Pittsburgh Botanic Garden parking lot closed due to a collapse 02:24

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- A stormwater retention system is likely to blame for part of the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden parking lot collapsing over the weekend.  

On Wednesday, those visiting the gardens could see the area fenced off with pieces of broken asphalt sunk in the middle of the lot.  

According to development director Beth Exton, the parking lot and new welcome center had just opened after a stormwater retention system was built underneath the lot.  

(Photo: Pittsburgh Botanic Garden)

"It's a little surprising it happened this soon to have something occur," Exton said.  

The lot partially collapsed on Sunday morning. Exton said no injuries were reported and there was no property damage.  

"It's shocking certainly," Marilyn Bruschi said, a Fox Chapel resident visiting the Botanical Gardens on Wednesday. 

Exton said engineers and inspectors are now working to learn what caused the collapse but said it appears the stormwater retention system malfunctioned and then collapsed, taking the blacktop with it.  

"The stormwater retention system was something we really wanted to put in because it's really environmentally friendly," Exton said. "So all of the stormwater along this side of the hill kind of drains into that area. We retain it and then slowly let it leach back out, which is the proper way, for a healthier environment around us and for the streams further down the hill from here. So it is what we wanted to do and it was the right thing to do we just -- unfortunately, this occurred."  

The system holds 177,000 gallons of water.  

"You would think it would be over-engineered, especially for this site because of water and drainage problems," Bruschi said. 

According to North Fayette Township, the EPA required the gardens to install the system to separate the stormwater from getting into a nearby creek.  

KDKA reached out to the EPA for comment but has not heard back yet. 

KDKA also reached out to the DEP, who said they are aware of the situation and have no reason to believe the collapse is related to abandoned mines in the area.  

The Botanic Gardens is back open as crews continue to investigate what caused the collapse to happen.  

"We're really excited to still be able to be open so that visitors can come and enjoy the garden," Exton said.  

Exton said they hope to have repairs finished by the end of the year.  

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