CONFLUENCE, Pa. (KDKA) – Days later and millions of pounds of rock and soil still cover a busy Fayette County road. Route 40 was shut down late last week after an enormous landslide near the Yough Reservoir.
Slow but steady is the best way to describe the situation. Crews have to clear tens of millions of pounds of debris before the hill can be stabilized.READ MORE: 2nd Penn State Student Dies From COVID-19
Standing at its base, the amount of soil, timber and rock that gave way on Route 40 is mind-boggling.
“When you see the size of the hill, the amount of dirt we still have, it makes you realize the scope of this problem,” said Jay Ofsanik with PennDOT.
And it’s a big problem that started months ago.
“A hard winter and a very wet spring — unfortunately these happen, but no one anticipated something of this magnitude,” said Ofsanik.
The objective is to remove the debris, then try to stabilize the already compromised soil and hope the areas next to the slide don’t also come tumbling down. At least that’s the plan.READ MORE: Living Life To The Fullest: Local Businessman Thriving Thanks To Breakthrough Treatment For SMA
“In southwestern Pennsylvania, there are no guarantees,” said Ofsanik.
It’s a heavy metal ballet as one excavator moves soil to another excavator and then into a waiting dump truck, and there have been a lot of waiting for dump trucks.
“We’re estimating about 900 truckloads, 10 to 12 cubic yards a truck,” said Ofsanik.
That’s about 32.4 million pounds of earth, with much more leftover.
As for when the road will reopen, that’s not up to PennDOT. Nature and gravity will have the final say. Part of the mountain came down on 40.
“It’s going to be closed for the foreseeable future,” said Ofsanik.MORE NEWS: McKeesport Police Searching For Missing 13-Year-Old Thomas Grier
For now, crews continue to work 12-hour shifts and hope the forecast stays dry. The last thing anyone wants to see is more of the the already weakened hillside come down.