(PITTSBURGH) May 4, 2012 Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced that the three flood gates located at intersections along Washington Boulevard have passed several safety tests and are fully operational. Work began on the flood gate system shortly after the flash flood along the PennDOT-owned road, which resulted in great tragedy. Three automated gate systems and five advanced warning signs have been installed along the Boulevard to warn motorists and pedestrians of flash flooding. The gates will be lowered in the threat of a flood.
"The City worked collaboratively with PennDOT to make sure this tragedy never happens again," Ravenstahl said. "This gate system will ensure that during flash flood situations no vehicles enter this part of Washington Boulevard.”
The system will use pressure sensors that automatically close the gates and activate the warning signs when a predetermined amount of water is detected on the roadway. When the system activates, it will also notify the appropriate emergency response personnel. The $450,000 project, funded and installed by PennDOT, will be owned and maintained by the City of Pittsburgh.
“We are very pleased to deploy flood gates along Washington Boulevard – the first such system in Pennsylvania,” said PennDOT District Executive Dan Cessna. “This advanced technology is designed to barricade the travel lanes if flooding is detected.”
In addition to the gate system, City officials have implemented a Water Rescue Awareness Plus training program, put together by Public Safety Director Michael Huss. Police, Fire, and EMS leaders have worked together to develop the eight hour training course that trains safety personnel on flood water rescue techniques, such as the use throw bags and personal safety devices. In addition, employees are taught the dangers of water in flood environments.
At present, 1,200 of the approximate 2,000 safety employees have received the training which will wrap up next month. The program’s next step will be to create water rescue teams, including elite teams for the most difficult situations. As part of the preparedness program, the City purchased 11 inflatable swiftwater boats for the most flood-prone areas of the City as well as flotation devices and throw bags to be added on fire trucks and police cars.
“I’m proud of all of our public safety employees who have appreciated the challenge of this swiftwater class,” said Michael Huss. “I have no doubt that this training will save lives.”
The automated flood gate systems have been installed on Washington Boulevard at the Negley Run Road intersection; on Washington Boulevard at the Allegheny River Boulevard intersection; and on Highland Drive and Lemington Avenue, approaching Washington Boulevard.
The five advanced warning signs have been installed on Butler Street approaching Washington Boulevard; on Allegheny River Boulevard approaching Washington Boulevard; on Negley Run Road approaching Washington Boulevard; on Highland Drive approaching Lemington Avenue; and on Washington Boulevard approaching Negley Run Road.