With rainstorm approaching, Pittsburgh crews again close Forward Avenue/Commercial Street corridor

2018-04-15 | The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

April 15--The city has again closed a landslide-vulnerable stretch of roadway that links Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill and Swisshelm Park neighborhoods.

Concerns over heavy rainfall expected Sunday night prompted the closure of Commercial Street/Forward Avenue hours before an intense rainstorm is expected to hit the region.

The road will not reopen until Monday, Department of Mobility and Infrastructure officials said shortly before noon Sunday.

The winding, two-lane road descends from Beechwood Boulevard in Squirrel Hill -- where it is also known as Forward Avenue -- and goes below the Parkway East and through the Nine Mile Run valley to Swisshelm Park.

The corridor had been closed for more than a week because of a landslide when officials reopened the inbound lane toward Squirrel Hill on Friday.

That lane will reopen as soon as city work crews clear away any debris left by the storm and determine the road is safe for drivers.

The Forward/Commercial corridor will be reopened with the single inbound lane as soon as possible after the rains have passed, officials said.

Crews have established a "buffer" between a slide area and travel lane that shifts traffic away from the vulnerable hillside but will allow emergency vehicles to access the hillside if necessary.

Forward Avenue becomes Commercial Street near the entrance to the Summerset at Frick residential development.

The slide caused a portion of a parking lot at the Walnut Towers at Frick Park apartment building to collapse.

An intense storm is expected to bring heavy rainfall to much of southwestern Pennsylvania starting around 3 p.m. and growing stronger as the night goes on.

The National Weather Service in Moon issued a flash flood watch and warned of possible landslides. A watch means that flooding is possible but not certain.

Meteorologists predict 1.5 to 2.5 inches of rain.

Small creeks and streams will be vulnerable to flash flooding, meteorologists said. Water levels of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers will rise.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8514, nlindstrom@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NewsNatasha.