Concerns arise for river levels in Pittsburgh area after day of heavy rainfall

PITTSBURGH — Heavy rainfall across the Pittsburgh area Tuesday, with more expected overnight, has all eyes on the rising river levels.

“The big concerns for me always is the rapid rise and fall of the rivers. That’s what gets really dangerous, when it comes up real fast,” said Shane Checkan, the Navigation Committee Chairman for the Waterways Association of Pittsburgh.

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Checkan has been closely monitoring river conditions Tuesday and collaborating with agencies like the Coast Guard, National Weather Service, Army Corps of Engineers, and Pittsburgh Police River Rescue.

“Situations like these, where the rain is so widespread, we have a big jump on the Mon river, we have a big jump on the Allegheny River, we have a big jump on the Beaver, that’s when we know we’re going to get a serious jump to the Ohio and all of the tributaries get hit,” Checkan explained.

The rainfall is impacting more than just the rivers, too.

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Channel 11 was there as Pittsburgh Public Works crews blocked off the North Shore River Walk Tuesday evening.

We also saw ponding water on numerous roadways Tuesday afternoon, including a PennDOT lane closure on Rochester Road in Ross Township.

“The ground is so saturated, the streams are already high, a lot of the drainage systems are already running at full capacity from all the water that’s running off the hillsides, so when we see this heavy rain move in tonight, with everything being high, and saturated, it causes issues on the roadways very quickly,” said Lori Musto, PennDOT’s Assistant District 11 Executive of Maintenance.

According to Musto, PennDOT has its incident command center set up and crews are working around the clock.

Due to rising river levels, PennDOT has already announced drivers can expect a closure of the Parkway East “Bathtub” Wednesday morning just after rush hour.

“We’re watching the levels very closely, we’re hoping for right after morning rush hour we’ll start the closure of the bathtub area. It’s supposed to crest at just over 26 feet and the bathtub floods at 25 feet,” Musto said.

Pittsburgh Parking Authority also announced the Mon Wharf parking area is closed until further notice.

It does not expect to be able to reopen that until at least Saturday.

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