Investigates

South Hills Residents face another rough winter after construction of DPW facility delayed again

PITTSBURGH — Target 11 has learned that the construction of a critical public works facility that houses salt trucks has been delayed again, and that means residents in a number of communities serviced by that facility will face yet another winter of extended wait times for streets to be treated.

The delay was caused by the discovery of an old mine shaft.

Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle toured the site with Pittsburgh City Councilman Anthony Coghill.

“I know it’s back on this hillside somewhere. It was the engineers and surveyors, they noticed the ground shifting and then they noticed the open mine shaft,” said Coghill.

That discovery has now delayed the constructions of the new public works facility to be built on the site of the old facility in on Mathews Avenue in Knoxville.

“We fully expected to have this building up and running before this winter and along came the mineshaft,” said Coghill.

It’s covered by bushes, trees and overgrown vegetation. The city declined to show us the exact location because they don’t want people looking for it.

It was discovered earlier this year just before construction was set to begin on the new facility.

“Nobody is more frustrated than myself,” said Coghill.

In 2015, a Target 11 Investigation exposed serious safety concerns with the decades old DPW building. After deeming it structurally deficient, the city closed it in 2017, and announced plans to build a new facility on the same spot.

But since the closing, residents in some of the South Hills communities served by the Knoxville facility have felt the impact, especially they say during the past couple winter months.

“We’re talking almost 48 hours… and not even just salt, but I mean a plow,” said Bill O’Malley, who lives in Brookline, and said it’s been a frustrating couple of years without the Knoxville facility.

The problem is simple. Salt trucks that used to be stationed in Knoxville, now come from much farther away in the Strip District. It takes time, especially in poor conditions with traffic. The trucks are able to reload in the South Hills at salt dome on Route 51 and another station at Moore Park in Brookline.

“We figured we were losing probably an hour and half, two hours of, you know, being on the ground,” said Coghill.

And last winter the complaints of snow covered roads and treacherous conditions came in from Brookline, Carrick, Overbrook and Beechview. In all, more than 600 calls of complaints into Councilman Coghill’s office during two winter storms.

“I can just say from my end, that’s not good,” said O’Malley.

The new $3.2 million facility was supposed to be completed in time for last winter.

It was initially delayed then when a property owner who had decided not to sell had a change of heart.

The site had to be redesigned then. And then this past spring, the discovery or that previously unknown mine shaft.

“There’s nothing we can do about that. We have to be able to handle that environmental situation, the way it needs to be handled so that it’s safe,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, who vowed to do better getting trucks on the road this winter.

“We got four million coming into the budget. We’re going to rent some snow plows,” said Mayor Gainey.

Councilman Coghill, who’s optimistic about the new commitment, said he won’t be satisfied until the new facility ready to go.

In the meantime, he’s asking for patience, yet again.

“I just want to really thank the fourth district for being patient, and patient with this public works division, patient with our snow removal. This time next year, I’m guaranteeing this place will be up and running and our services will better,” said Coghill.

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