Thursday, March 12, 2009

Slip Sliding Away

Please insert your "Walmart find replacement site for its failed Kilbuck Twp in City's West End" joke here:

A leaking water line apparently caused a mudslide that temporarily closed a West End street and damaged a vacant home, city officials said Tuesday.

Trees, mud and debris slid about 100 feet down the hillside between Elliott and Angle streets into the back of the three-story house.

The Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority shut down the water main that runs parallel to Angle Street, said Operations Director Tom Palmosina. PWSA spokeswoman Melissa Rubin said only one home was affected and that it is unclear if anyone lives there.

Rubin said a leak somewhere in the line caused the slide, though officials could not say whether it was in the water main or the 2-inch-wide pipe that supplied the empty house.
So, let me get this straight (and please correct me if I'm misreading this article): this landslide was triggered by a PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE failure that serviced only ONE HOUSE that was probably UNOCCUPIED.

Does anyone else see a problem with this?

And no, by that I'm not suggesting that someone was accruing a private benefit for public services that was undeserved. What I am suggesting is that in an efficient system, this water line should no longer exist. Sure, in the 1940s that street probably had rows and rows of housing, but at that time, the City also had about 700,000 people. Today, the street is nearly empty and the City has closer to 311,000 people.

Now, we're spending more public money to resolve an emergency when we probably should have just severed and abandoned that line in the first place. This doesn't even include all the routine plowing and paving that has to occur on that road on a regular basis in the first place.

I doubt that this street is alone in the City, and I wonder what the cost is for the upkeep of its brethren and what the trade off is in abandoning, vacating, or just plain old forgetting about them all.


Bram Reichbaum said...

Okay, here's a strange thought. You know what would happen in NATURE right now?

If there are a lot of empty houses, whole abandoned swaths of land, due to population shrinkage or neglect or what have you ... in NATURE, what would happen is sooner or later something would catch of fire, or some idiot squatter/vandal would light something on fire, and the whole fershuggenah neighborhood would go up in flames.

That would be a very inexpensive and efficient way to shrink.

O said...

For the record, Bram: I feel that the City of Pittsburgh has not used arson as a redevelopment tool to its fullest extent.

Of course, I'm also in favor of carpet bombing places like Robinson Town Center/The Pointe as an economic development strategy.