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Mt. Washington landslide stable — for now

Bob Bauder

Pittsburgh officials say a landslide that closed a popular Mt. Washington restaurant and the Duquesne Incline in April has stabilized, but they continue to monitor the area and a host of other slide-prone areas throughout the city.

Tons of boulders and dirt the length of a football field tumbled from Mt. Washington below theLeMont restaurant on April 8, blocking Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks along West Carson Street.

As a precaution, the city ordered the LeMont and the incline, on Grandview Avenue, closed. The restaurant remained closed for several days as engineers inspected the slide area and deemed the area safe.

Bruce Roth, an engineer for GAI Consultants Inc., which the city retained to inspect the area, said there’s no immediate danger to Grandview or buildings there.

“It’s the type of thing where it’s happened before, and given enough time, it will continue to move,” Roth said of Mt. Washington.

The railroad erected a retaining wall along its tracks to prevent further disruptions. Department of Public Works Director Mike Gable does not expect the railroad to bill Pittsburgh for the cleanup and wall.

Sam Felton, vice president of finance for the LeMont, said the slide happened exclusively on city property and did not impact the restaurant.

“We’ve had engineers look at our building, and we are 100 percent safe,” he said.

Slides will continue to happen on Mt. Washington and other areas of the city because of hilly terrain, winter freeze-thaw cycles and rain, city Operations Chief Guy Costa said. DPW has a list of 63 slide-prone areas that it monitors.

Priority areas include Oakland Square in Oakland, Brahms and Itin streets in Spring Hill and Mooney Road in Lincoln Place.

Costa said the city repairs slide areas as money is available. DPW will make emergency repairs if inspectors consider an area a threat to public safety.

He said Pittsburgh has bought property from homeowners in neighborhoods including Greenfield and Elliott because it was cheaper to buy the houses than fix slides.

“We’re an old city where from time to time, you have landslides,” he said. “They’re unpredictable and very expensive to clean up. It’s just something that’s going to keep occurring. Nature takes its course.”

Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or [email protected].


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