EAST PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A section of Route 30 in East Pittsburgh collapsed over the weekend and there is no clear timetable for how long repairs will take.
However, officials said it will take months.
"We are definitely talking months, not weeks, for how long it's going to take us to get this fixed," Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards said.
Crews are still working to clear the debris from the hillside. Once that is complete, they will work on a plan to rebuild the road.
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State officials believe the landslide was likely caused by all the wet weather lately.
"We don't have a definitive plan. We have an idea," PennDOT District 11 Executive Cheryl Moon-Sirianni said. "Until we remove what's still there, they almost got it all down, and do a couple more holes, they have to drill pretty deep down to see where the rock and everything is."
Two excavators from Allison Park Contractors worked in a coordinated dance, moving the dirt of the Route 30 slide scoop by scoop. Their efforts are dwarfed by the task around them and the time it will take.
"It's a significant amount of time," Moon-Sirianni said. "At least a week, maybe two."
And that's just to clear the slide.
The work cannot be done from the top, or quickly, for fear of unintentionally bringing down even more of the hillside.
"The excavation taking place is necessary for us to find the reason for this slide so that we can correct it," Richards said.
The excavators are clearing a shelf so drilling can then search the depths of the soil for the bedrock below needed for a new retaining wall.
"We want to at least anchor to rock. So whatever our fix turns out to be will depend on the location of the rock," Moon-Sirianni said.
The engineers working on the solution to the problem are well on their way to designing a large retaining wall that will be constructed to secure the hillside from future issues.
Removal of the slide and construction of the wall is only the beginning.
"We then have to backfill the area then build a road, and it's pretty high from the bottom of the slide to Route 30," Moon-Sirianni said, "so we've got lots to do."
And there are lot of unknowns along the way.
"They could start moving that material, and it continues to slide then we have a bigger problem on our hands," Moon-Sirianni said.
But if all goes perfectly the road's reopening?
"We're hopeful it will definitely be summer," Moon-Sirianni said.
Until then about 24,000 drivers a day will be forced to detour.
Drivers are already tired of sitting in traffic, but they still have a long way to go before they can use Route 30 in East Pittsburgh again.
"It's a mess. Going and coming to work, like extra time out of my day. I'm getting tired of it," one woman said.
"It's going to be a very long time. It's very inconvenient, but you gotta do what you gotta do," another woman said.
New detours were established over the weekend, which will hopefully alleviate some congestion.
New Posted Westbound Route 30 Detour
• From westbound Route 30, traffic will turn right onto Greensburg Pike in North Versailles Township
• Greensburg Pike becomes Monroeville Avenue
• Turn left onto the Tri-Boro Expressway (Route 130)
• Turn right onto Brown Avenue (Route 130)
• Brown Avenue becomes Beulah Road
• Turn left onto William Penn Highway
• Turn left onto the ramp to westbound (inbound) I-376 Parkway East
• Follow I-376 to Wilkinsburg (Exit 78B) interchange
• End detour
The eastbound detour remains unchanged.
Posted Eastbound Route 30 Detour
• From eastbound Route 30, all traffic will take the ramp to Electric Avenue toward East Pittsburgh/Turtle Creek
• Turn right onto Braddock Avenue
• Turn left onto East Pittsburgh McKeesport Boulevard
• Turn left onto Navy-Marine Corp Way
• Turn right onto eastbound Route 30
• End detour
The Port Authority said several bus routes have also been affected by the closure.
Crews have already demolished two apartment buildings along Electric Avenue due to the debris from the landslide. Now, crews believe they will have to demolish a nearby house because they said the wall that holds up the deck has started to move and cracks started forming at the bottom.
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