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Fixing Washington Blvd. Flooding Problem Will Cost Billions

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Flooding in western Pennsylvania is a problem, and a post agenda meeting in City Council was called to address some of the concerns.

The biggest frustration was Washington Boulevard at Negley Run. A tragic accident at that intersection five years ago killed four people, and recent flooding points out flaws in the flood gate system that was supposed to prevent this from happening again.

"The whole system is not in failure. Actually all of the signals work, so if there were an incident today the signals would work," said Public Works Director Mike Gable.

But the flood gates would not. Each of the three gates has a unique problem that must still be addressed, meaning any major flooding here requires quick response from police and swift water excuse teams.

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"We basically back up Public Safety with Public Works, cleanup storm drains ahead of time position barricades there," said Public Safety Director Michael Hissrich.

The meeting was called by City Councilwoman Darlene Harris, and the big elephant in the room was not so much the short term plan but what is it going to take to stop the threat of flooding, period.

"The overall plan with the EPA is a 20 year plan where areas that flood would get priority and at least a 10-15 year plan," said Mayor Bill Peduto.

The city is taking a comprehensive look at the infrastructure that currently exist, along with Alcoson and PWSA but none of this comes cheaply. In fact, rate payers brace yourselves, because the cost is significant.

"You're looking at hundreds of millions of dollars of green infrastructure and over a $2.5 billion dollar project," Peduto said.

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