PITTSBURGH — Channel 11 is already monitoring landslides in the Pittsburgh area. Last February was the beginning of a year of devastating slides for homeowners and drivers in our area.
Pittsburgh's Chief Meteorologist Stephen Cropper says we could be in for another wet year after 2018's record-setting rainfall. He took a closer look at how many landslides from last year are still causing issues in 2019 and how much it cost local governments.
On Goehring Street in Spring Hill, 2018's nightmare still continues. Randal Miller says he still remembers the impact that shook his house and told him the hillside behind the home was coming down.
Miller and his wife were just two of several homeowners on the street forced out a year ago. They are still waiting to be allowed back in their homes.
Channel 11 saw similar stories all last year as landslides destroyed homes and roads across Western Pennsylvania. Dozens of those slides are still causing issues.
On PennDOT roads in Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties there were 85 active landslides this January. In Washington, Westmoreland, Fayette, and Greene counties, PennDOT is currently monitoring more than 250 landslides. District 11 Executive Cheryl Moon-Sirianni tells Channel 11 slide remediation has become a balancing act for the budget, more than double what they planned to spend last year alone.
"I truly feel bad that we can't repair every road as soon as we can," Moon-Sirianni said. "It's just a balance that we have to fund the ones that are most critical."
She says PennDOT will take into consideration a lot of factors when deciding which landslides to fix first. They look at how near it is to a school bus route, a heavily trafficked road or whether it is the only way in and out of a community.
"We do put all those risk factors in when we are deciding which ones we can repair and which ones we can maybe wait a few years on," Moon-Sirianni said.
She said as PennDOT repairs slide, it is focusing on drainage repairs to make sure water is making its way safely out of hillsides.
In Allegheny County, landslides damaged 131 properties; and in Pittsburgh it only took months for the city to exceed it's $2.5 million landslide budget last year. The city increased this year's budget to nearly $7 million.
"We still hope that we won't see the number of landslides we saw last year, that was an unusual year," said Pittsburgh's Director of Mobility and Infrastructure Karina Ricks. "But we're prepared."
In Spring Hill, Miller says engineers have looked behind his home and assured him with some drainage improvements, it will be safe. He's waiting on the city to agree and let him go home.
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