Could cleanup at Howard Tire & Auto Inc. begin?

HARRISBURG, Pa. - An engineering firm visited Howard Tire & Auto Inc. Monday to figure out how to clean up the mess that's been there for more than three years. The business is the site of a partial wall collapse back in May of 2016.

The firm was there to survey the damage. Engineers were walking past the windows on the McFarland Apartments. The owner of Howard Tire & Auto Inc., Howard Henry, said they aren't determining what happened or what caused the collapse, instead, how to clean it up.

It's the same scene over the Mulberry Street Bridge for three years. Rubble, debris, and a car through the back of Howard Tire & Auto Inc. on Cameron Street.

"It's wrecked my life so I'm just kind of recovering from it,” Henry said. “I went through a really dark period there for a little while. It's just caused me a lot of pain.”

The wall that had been propping up a parking lot for the McFarland Apartments collapsed onto his building. Henry filed a lawsuit against the owners of the apartment building, PennDOT, and about a dozen other agencies after multiple attempts to get things cleaned up so his store could re-open.

Step one to starting that cleanup happened Monday, 26 months later. A judge ordered the site to be surveyed on McFarland's dime.

"It feels good in that we have movement,” Henry said. “So the judge says there's a light at the end of the tunnel. And I say, 'with all due respect judge, that remains to be scene’.”

Those engineers are trying to determine how to clean up the damage; whether the failing foundation will need to be removed or just stabilized. The cause of the collapse remains unanswered, for now.

For Henry, getting back his building won't give him back his business.

"About 21 to 25 shops opened up absorbing my business in central Pennsylvania,” Henry said. “There's a used tired shop on every used corner where there never was before. There was a vacuum in this city that took place in my absence that sucked my market up dry. I created this market and it belonged to me, and now it's gone."

That engineering firm, Thorton Tomasetti, based out of Philadelphia, has 30 days to figure out a cleanup plan. Henry said his remedies won't be determined until afterwards. His losses are in the millions.

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