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Final business owner along Route 28 construction site closes, leaves shop

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PITTSBURGH - The construction expansion project on Route 28 forced an auto body shop to close Monday, and the owner to move out.

The business owner, who was embroiled in a protracted dispute with the state over the seizure of his property by eminent domain for a highway widening project, was evicted by Allegheny County Sheriff’s deputies Monday morning.

“I am out of business right now. There was no reason to do this,” said William Lieberth, owner of Allegheny Auto Body. “This is government taking private property illegally.”

Deputies surrounded the building about 10 a.m., Lieberth said, and gave him half hour to pack up some of his belongings before padlocking the doors.

“It’s very upsetting,” Lieberth said. “I’ve been here 37 years. It’s been a body shop since 1935.”

Lieberth said he received a check that was part of a settlement he said he did not approve.

“They didn’t give me enough to retire on. I’m 56,” Lieberth said.

He said he netted about $200,000, but he needs that cash to buy a new property and build a new body shop.

“I have an estimate that would cost at least $1 million to rebuild,” Lieberth said.

A judge ruled last month that he must accept the settlement his former attorney brokered to settle the last eminent domain case for the region’s largest highway construction project.

Lieberth said he wants to keep serving his loyal customers, but can’t find a suitable and affordable place to reopen.

PennDOT plans to demolish the 75-year-old structure in the next few days.