New steps being taken to fix long-standing Route 51 flooding problem

New steps being taken to fix long-standing Route 51 flooding problem

PITTSBURGH — Almost anytime there's a heavy rain in Pittsburgh, there's major concerns about Route 51 and the possibility of flooding.

“I've seen a car floating on 51. There have been times I had to stay here for a couple of hours because they shut the whole street down,” said Amiran Gafurov of Seran Auto Sales.

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The flooding problem dates back to the 1940s but only minor fixes have been made, which haven't held up against heavy flooding.

But that's beginning to change.

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Recently, the Pennsylvania Water and Sewage Authority completed a stormwater project in Overbrook designed to catch some of that water.

The idea is the system would work like a gutter, so when the water comes rushing down in a flash flooding situation -- instead of being pushed over a railing onto Route 51, it would be pushed back into a green space where the water would be absorbed away from businesses and homes.

“I think it has yet to be tested, it's really new. I know the businesses down below are excited and optimistic that it will help,” said Pittsburgh City Councilman Anthony Coghill.

Pittsburgh City Council is also expected to approve $320,000 to help the Army Corps of Engineers repair flood mitigation project in the West End, which was severely damaged in 2018.

Coghill believes these are steps in the right direction, but plenty of work remains before he's confident businesses and homeowners will be protected.

“How confident am I? I would say on a 1-10 scale probably a five. But before this was put here, it was more like a three,” Coghill said.

PWSA joins other groups looking to solve Route 51 flooding