North Huntingdon addresses crumbling Haywood Road
Add North Huntingdon to the list of Western Pennsylvania communities that are coming to grips with sliding hills and shifting roads.
The township closed one lane of a section of Haywood Road that cracked and crumbled after the hillside it rests on, paralleling and overlooking Route 993, started to slide.
“Our road is collapsing,” said Richard Albert, the township’s public works director. “One lane has slid three or four feet below the other. We may have to, at some point, close the road. It has yet to stabilize itself.”
It could cost at least $500,000 to put the road back in order, he estimated.
“We had a core sample drilled last week,” Albert said. “Our engineer is coming up with a plan to proceed, and we’ll be putting it out to bid.”
The hill began sliding in late February and early March, and the length of the road partially blocked by concrete barriers has since grown to about 100 feet, Albert said. “It is a low-traffic road, but it is a connector,” bordering the village of Ardara.
Utility poles also are shifting with the hill. West Penn Power has been alerted and may need to establish new service locations for at least one nearby home, Albert said.
He believes a combination of recent heavy rains and repeated temperature fluctuations over winter played a part in destabilizing the road and the soil beneath it.
“The weather has been bizarre this year,” he said. “With all the precipitation and the temperature changes, it’s been hard to deal with.”
The township spent about $10,000 each to repair two smaller slides that developed at about the same time — on Mahaffey Hill Road and Lighthouse Lane.
Farther east in the township, PennDOT is addressing slides along the north berm of Route 993, between Irwin and Westmoreland City.
The roadway shoulder was closed on Third Street, just outside Irwin. A second slide to the east, where the road is known as Broadway Street, is being monitored, according to PennDOT District 12 spokeswoman Valerie Petersen.
She said PennDOT is addressing more than 200 slides across the district, which is made up of Fayette, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
“We have crews constantly monitoring them,” she said.
Donald Miller of Irwin, who drives daily on the affected section of Route 993, said more should be done to prevent a catastrophic road collapse like the one April 7 that closed a section of Route 30 in East Pittsburgh. He said he would like to see a retention wall built to shore up the road in North Huntingdon.
“With all the rain that we’ve had and the 18-wheelers, it’s a disaster waiting to happen,” he said.
An average of 3,400 vehicles travel that segment of Route 993 each day, according to PennDOT data. That figure soars to close to 9,000 vehicles a day near Westmoreland City.
Andrew Smith, manager of Wolfe’s Transmission and Auto Center on Broadway Street, agreed the slide near Irwin needs attention.
“If we get another of these rainy seasons, it’s going to get worse,” he said.