Officials trace source of debris that crippled Pittsburgh T service Friday

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A 20-foot section of steel reinforcing bar that crumbled from an overhead structure not owned by the Port Authority crippled Light Rail Transit service for several hours on Friday.

One end of the bar came to rest on overhead wires that provide power to the rail system at about 7 a.m., authority spokeswoman Heather Pharo said. The incident occurred between the First Avenue and Steel Plaza stations, on a section of track that passes under the Manor Building and its adjacent parking garage.

Because the damage occurred near the property line, officials had not determined on Monday whether the debris came from the garage or the 11-story building, which have different owners.

With power knocked out, the authority had to terminate inbound trips at First Avenue. Vehicles that were farther into the system shuttled between Allegheny and Steel Plaza stations. Many riders experienced delays of 30 to 40 minutes.

The inbound side was reopened at about noon with single-track operations; service was fully restored by about 2 p.m., Ms. Pharo said.

During the incident, crews found other loose debris that was at risk of falling, and obtained permission from Alco Parking, which manages but does not own the garage, to remove it.

"Our engineers worked with city inspectors to confirm there were no imminent structural issues before reopening for service," Ms. Pharo said.

However, in a letter to Alco Parking, authority assistant general manager Keith Wargo said, "Notwithstanding Port Authority's efforts ... your structure will require further remediation."

Merrill Stabile, president of Alco, said on Monday that it had not been determined whether the falling debris came from the garage or the building, both of which were constructed in 1958.

"We've told the Port Authority we'll help them in any way we can," he said. "We need to look long-term as to preventing anything like this from happening in the future."

The Pittsburgh Bureau of Building Inspection has requested an engineering report on the site from the garage owner, said Sonya Toler, spokeswoman for Mayor Bill Peduto.

The Manor Building is owned by Manor Building Associates LP, an affiliate of Rugby Realty Co. Inc., based in New Rochelle, N.Y.

The garage is owned by Dali Associates LP of Rockville Centre, N.Y. Principals with the companies could not be reached.

The garage was open for business on Monday.


Jon Schmitz: jschmitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1868. Visit the PG's transportation blog, The Roundabout, at www.post-gazette.com/Roundabout. Twitter: @pgtraffic.

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