PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Worried about potential landslides because of the persistent rainy weather, City of Pittsburgh officials preemptively closed a couple roads in Squirrel Hill on Thursday due to the threat of a landslide.
According to the Mayor’s Office, crews shut down sections of Commercial Street in Swisshelm Park and Forward Avenue in Squirrel Hill, between the Irish center and Summerset Drive. The streets are sometimes used by drivers as a detour because of congestion on the Parkway East.
Landslides, a few weeks ago, caused similar closures, and for people like Mark Puharic, who lives on Commercial Street, the closure could only mean one thing.
“I’m looking at half an hour, 45 minutes traveling just to get around to my house now,” Puharic said. “There’s nothing we can do about it, it’s a problem that’s recurring because of that hillside coming down.”
KDKA’s Lynne Hayes-Freeland Reports:
Forward Avenue was closed below the Walnut Towers high rise, where a portion of the parking lot has been fenced off. That’s because the lot has started crumbling away due to the earth shifting.
“The private property owner, with the city, did a [geotechnical] study,” City Councilman Corey O’Connor said. “The geo-tech study that they submitted, and we saw showed that there a possibility of more sliding. The ground was not stable, so we just can’t take a risk. We’re going to shut it down permanently, for now, and then we’re going to work with the property owner. We have a meeting next week to talk about some possible solutions of how quick we can do it.”
The city says the closures will impact not only daily traffic, but they will also mean the re-routing of school buses in the neighborhood once schools starts up again after the Easter holiday.
Councilman O’Connor says the partial road closures could last weeks, perhaps longer.
“If a slide were to happen, it would happen immediately,” he said. “You can’t take a risk. We have walkers, bikers on that hill, plus the daily traffic, you never know what could happen.”
Officials are also reminding anyone who travels in the area not to drive around the barricades that have been set up. Conditions in that area could pose potential dangers for drivers.