Collapsed Pittsburgh Highway Reopens

MONDAY, JULY 2, 2018

A 300-foot section of U.S. Route 30, which collapsed east of Pittsburgh during a landslide April 7, reopened June 27, taking crews less than three months to complete the massive repair.

PennDOT originally estimated it would have the highway restored by July, according to TribLIVE. Repairing the damage included building a new retaining wall—20 feet high and 400 feet long—to replace the one that collapsed. The wall stands around the same height as the old one, but is more than twice the length.

Route 30 Failure

A nearby apartment building collapsed during the April landslide that closed the road, with one house and eight apartments evacuated at the time. The collapse was attributed to an unusually rainy month—from Feb. 15 to April 4, Pittsburgh International Airport recorded 9.68 inches of rain, more than the area gets over the three months between Feb. 1 and April 30 in an average year. In total, the state incurred $12 million in damages from more than 70 landslides during the late winter and early spring.

Golden Triangle Construction won the $6.54 million reconstruction contract.

In the scramble to repair the collapsed section of roadway, PennDOT set an “aggressive schedule”: The installation of the retaining wall began in mid-May, followed by rebuilding the road and the surrounding area.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, plans for the retaining wall included a 400-foot wall of precast concrete panels, each 20 feet tall, that were installed about 150 feet below the surface of the road. The new wall is supported by pylons, which meant drilling holes and filling them with concrete. Then, steel posts were installed horizontally through the concrete panels, into the hillside, to create anchors as additional support.

From there, the hillside was graded to a gentler slope. Granulated fill was added to allow for better drainage, followed by the placing of material for the subsurface of the road. A new surface was paved.

Reopening the Highway

As the road reopened last week, PennDOT District 11 Executive Cheryl Moon-Sirianni expressed appreciation for neighbors' patience during the highway repair.

The work was fast-tracked thanks to an emergency declaration by the state. With cooperation from contractors and vendors, a job that would have customarily taken two years to complete took roughly three months. The declaration allowed the agency to bypass customary bidding procedures.

"Especially the people who have been relocated. I think I probably want to thank them more than anybody. They've been out of their homes since April 7," said Moon-Sirianni. "We believe this was caused by an act of nature and the excessive rainfall. We did investigate the drainage early on, but we did not find any of the drainage to be failing."

The collapsed destroyed two of the five buildings in the apartment complex, as well as a house. PennDOT has spent more than $10 million on the project so far, but the final amount won’t be determined until all residents are placed.

The state has filed paperwork with the Federal Highway Administration seeking emergency funding for the work, but no decision has yet been made.


Tagged categories: Disasters; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Rehabilitation/Repair; Roads/Highways

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