Office of Mayor William Peduto
City of Pittsburgh Addressing Flood Gates on Washington Boulevard
Police closing boulevard entrances during rain events

PITTSBURGH, PA (August 29, 2016) The City of Pittsburgh is working with a contractor to determine why the flood gates at the entrances to Washington Boulevard are not working, and to implement upgrades once the corrective issues are identified. 

Earlier this summer a gate at the intersection of Negley Run and Washington boulevards was broken when the gate unexpectedly dropped and a motorist drove through it. During a heavy storm yesterday gates at other intersections also malfunctioned, and would not deploy either automatically or manually.  

There are 11 separate units in the flood gate system, including signals, gates and sensors, and a computer system overseeing communications among the units. Fixes could be as simple as replacing backup batteries at the units or removing trees interfering with telecommunications, or be more critical, requiring replacement of some units. The City is working with its electrical contractor Allegheny City Electric to subcontract with Bronder Technical Services – which fabricated and installed the gates in 2011 – to study the system. 

Contractors met with City Public Safety and Public Works officials for a site visit at the gates in July, but the system has not been fully inspected since it was erected five years ago. 

"Obviously there have been repeated failures with this system, but we have a plan to address them, and to make this system whole," said Public Works Director Mike Gable. 

Last week DPW fixed the gate that was smashed by a motorist this summer. 

In the meantime, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police officers in the Zone 5 station – which sits in the Washington Boulevard flood plain -- have been blocking intersections with their squad cars during heavy rain events.  

Public Works personnel have stationed barricades at the intersections for police use, and regularly clean catch basins along the boulevard to ease flow of water into the sewer system. (Crews proactively cleaned the basins Sunday afternoon in advance of the storm.) DPW also regularly cleans tree branches and other debris from the hillside on the eastern side of the boulevard where much of the flooding occurs. 

Public Safety personnel saved occupants of two vehicles submerged on the boulevard Sunday night, and police, fire, paramedics and DPW personnel responded to storm-related emergency calls in other neighborhoods as well, largely in neighborhoods in the east and south. Flooding was reported at Forbes and Murray avenues in Squirrel Hill and along Baldwin Road in Hays, and flowing debris caused a temporary closure of Second Avenue in South Oakland. 

"Storm events like this are nothing new to Pittsburgh. I can't emphasize enough that motorists should never drive through standing or flowing water, and if they do become stuck should remain in their vehicles until help arrives," said Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich.



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