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Flooding A Decades-Old Problem For Washington Boulevard

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(Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

(Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As officials look into what caused flood waters to rise so quickly on Washington Boulevard, the KDKA Investigators have learned that it is a problem officials have known about for decades.

In fact, there have been several plans to end the problem, but not one was ever implemented.

“It’s just insane to me that people would continue dying in the same intersection for the same reason for 60 years,” Olga Watkins, a community activist, said.

Watkins is outraged by Friday’s tragedy and the history here.

“The City Council twice then – in 1952 and 1954 – voted twice to do nothing,” she said.

A headline from the 1950s reads: “Washington Blvd. Flood Season Here: And True To Form, the City Fathers Prepare to ‘Do Something About It’”

There were floods in 1951 and the following year, a woman died. Also in 1952, 50 cars were stranded.

There were proposals to fix the problem – one to elevate the road. The other was to install water-sensitive sensors and red warning lights.

Both were shot down.

There was more flooding and then another plan in 1955. It was shot down. A lack of funding was blamed.

The bottom line is there has been flooding, damage and death as a result.

“I’d love to see the line item budget from that year, from those years – from 1950 to 1954 for the city and see where they decided the money was better spent, you know, as opposed to this huge public safety issue,” Watkins said.

KDKA’s Marty Griffin reports he is told that city leaders are working on a plan that will put barricades on Washington Boulevard, similar to a railroad crossing with warning lights.

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