10th Street closed 6 to 8 weeks after bus falls in massive sinkhole

PITTSBURGH – Repairs are underway Tuesday after a Port Authority of Allegheny County bus was swallowed by a massive sinkhole Monday morning in downtown Pittsburgh.

The bus fell into the giant sinkhole at 10th Street and Penn Avenue just before 8 a.m. Monday.

Penn Avenue reopened Tuesday morning. Shortly before 7:30 a.m., Pittsburgh Public Safety officials said 10th Street between Fort Duquesne Boulevard and Penn Avenue would reopen shortly.

Penn and Liberty avenues reopened Tuesday morning after officials removed the bus from the sinkhole.

However, the City of Pittsburgh announced that 10th Street between Penn and Liberty avenues will be closed for about eight weeks as city crews work to repair the sinkhole.

Port Authority bus routes will also be affected by the sinkhole:

    • Inbound bus routes 86, 88 and 91 will travel from Penn @ 11th, right at 11th, left onto 10th Street bypass, left onto Ft Duquesne Blvd., left onto Ninth, right onto Penn to regular route. Outbound is regular route.
    • Discontinued stops (inbound): Penn at Garrison and Ninth at Penn. Established stops (inbound): Penn at 11th (existing) and Ninth at Penn.
    • Mid Mon Valley Transit Authority buses will be detoured, but no stops will be missed in either direction.

The woman driving the bus and a second woman who was a passenger both managed to get off the bus and through the front door, Port Authority officials said.

The passenger was treated by paramedics and was taken to a Pittsburgh hospital for neck pain, then released, officials said. The driver was not hurt.

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Witnesses told Channel 11 the bus was at a red light when the street gave way and the bus plunged into the 100-foot-wide and 20-feet-deep hole. A car also partially fell into the sinkhole.

Public safety is working to determine exactly what caused the sinkhole, but when it happened, a 10-inch water main broke, sending water shooting everywhere.

Around 9:45 p.m. Monday, the bus was removed from the sinkhole by cranes.

The same crane company that removed the train from the Station Square derailment removed the bus.

There was concern that the road could collapse further.

Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said there was also a Duquesne Light electrical vault and several gas lines involved, and they were having a serious problem with the infrastructure because there are Comcast and Verizon fiber optic cables around the sinkhole.

Had the cables become disconnected while the bus was being lifted from the sinkhole, Hissrich said there could have been a problem with communications throughout the tri-state area.

“Granted how far the bus fell into the hole, we’re really lucky here that pretty much no injuries happened,” Port Authority Police Chief Matthew Porter said.

Children from a nearby day care, Small World Learning Center, were evacuated Monday to another location. The day care remained closed Tuesday, along with Ten Penny restaurant and a FedEx store.

Andy Paul, who is visiting from Louisville, is staying at the Westin Pittsburgh on Penn Avenue and encountered parking issues.

“We couldn’t get into the underground garage at the Westin, so we had to create parking and ended up valeting at a whole other hotel just to park somewhere,” Paul said.

According to a release from the city of Pittsburgh, contractors are removing debris and concrete from the sinkhole Tuesday, and they will then work on “securing the fiber infrastructure” that was also impacted.

Once that work is done, PWSA will assess damage to any water, sewer and storm lines at the site.

“There are a host of utilities impacted by the sinkhole, which complicates the restoration effort,” the release said. “In addition to PWSA there is also below-ground infrastructure at the site by Duquesne Light, Verizon, Peoples Gas, and PAC Thermal (PACT).”

After all of that work is complete, the sinkhole will be filled up and a new concrete street will be poured. Crews will also restore sidewalks and curbs in the area.

That entire process is expected to take an estimated eight weeks to finish.

As repairs are made, officials said businesses in that area “may experience intermittent outages of water or utility service.”