Landslide that shut McArdle Roadway worse than originally thought

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Pittsburgh public works is soliciting price quotes on two methods to repair a landslide that fell onto McArdle Roadway and had to close Grandview Avenue on Mount Washington for a time Thursday while a contractor worked to remove unstable material from a slope.

"It seems like it's worse than originally anticipated," public works director Rob Kaczorowski said.

The hillside wasn't the only thing sliding -- restaurants along Grandview Avenue were experiencing a drop in customers since McArdle was closed Monday evening from the Liberty Bridge to Grandview.

"January is typically a slow month for restaurants, and the last couple days, it's been horrible," said Melissa Michener, manager of the Georgetowne Inn.

Part of the reason for the drop in reservations is the dreary winter weather, she said. But the closure has contributed to cutting the restaurant's usual number of evening reservations in half, as people cancel rather than find an alternate route to Mount Washington.

"Anytime that roadway is closed, we always have a lot of cancellations or people calling asking for directions," Ms. Michener said.

R&B Contracting and Excavating of Homestead was hired on an emergency basis Tuesday because the city's equipment could not reach an area of unstable soil on the hillside above McArdle.

The company was working from Grandview throughout the day to push the material down, and the avenue was closed for several hours. The city planned to reopen it, with restrictions, for the afternoon rush.

Once the contractor is finished working from above, it will move its equipment below the slide to finish removing the unstable soil, Mr. Kaczorowski said.

The company is working around the clock to stabilize the hillside, which was stripped of trees and invasive vegetation in the past few years to preserve the view of Downtown from Mount Washington overlooks. Grass and smaller trees were planted.

Asked if he thought that might be a factor in landslides that have occurred the past two winters, Mr. Kaczorowski said, "Any time you take a tree out, you lose some stability. It's one of the variables."

The city was seeking quotes on two permanent solutions for the slide, he said: stapling a fence-like material over the hillside or injecting a concrete-like mixture and reinforcing bars into it. Mr. Kaczorowski could not offer a prediction on when the road would reopen, but said he was hoping the hillside could be stabilized enough to do so before the permanent repairs are made.

Correction/Clarification: (Published January 14, 2012) The Mount Washington Community Development Corp. hasn't removed any trees near the McArdle Roadway landslide area. A story Friday said some had been taken out there to preserve the view of Downtown.

Jon Schmitz: or 412-263-1868. First Published January 13, 2012 5:00 AM


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