Work to break down boulder, reopen blocked road in Jefferson Hills underway

Work to break down and remove a massive boulder that rolled onto Route 837 is underway in Jefferson Hills.

“I think it was crazy how it happened,” one driver told us. “I’m just glad nobody got hurt.”

Crews immediately closed the roadway on Tuesday, from the Elizabeth Bridge to St. Clair Avenue, as the enormous rock broke free from the nearby hillside and blocked a full lane.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE >> Massive boulder falls onto roadway in Jefferson Hills, road closed indefinitely

Lori Musto, assistant district executive of maintenance for PennDOT District 11, told Channel 11 that crews initially tried to roll it off the road, but it proved too heavy.

Emergency contractors were called in to break it down into smaller chunks.

“They’re basically using a hoe ram to bust it up into smaller pieces, loading it into trucks and hauling it away,” she said.

The force of the boulder caused damage to the roadway, which crews hope to repair right away.

Musto said that the roadway should reopen by the weekend, and could possibly even open as soon as Thursday.

She said there is a “rock fall zone” off the hillside. Contractors are cleaning it out to “make sure that it is free to catch any debris.”

A PennDOT spokesman told Channel 11 that their geotechnical staff evaluated the hillside and did not observe any rocks or material that needed to come down. Crews will continue to monitor the hillside.

Musto said that the removed rock could be repurposed as “fill” to repair landslides.

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