Workers Test Washington Boulevard Flood Gates

PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – Part of Washington Boulevard in Pittsburgh’s Highland Park neighborhood was closed early Thursday morning to test the flood gates.

Washington Boulevard closed from Negley Run to Allegheny River Boulevard at 4 a.m. Highland Drive at Lemington Avenue was also closed. The roads reopened around 5:15 a.m.

“Three tests were conducted,” said Pittsburgh Chief Operations Officer Guy Costa. “One manually, operating from Zone 5 police station. The second one was the sensors in the street…were put in the water, and that worked properly. The third one was the sensor in the grassy area here. That sensor too went into the water and activated. So everything activated and did what it was supposed to do.”

Public safety officials have been trying to determine why a rain-activated gate failed to automatically stop traffic from entering. The system uses rain sensors that can trigger three swinging-arm gates and several lighted caution signals meant to keep motorists off Washington Boulevard.

“What happened last week was there was no power going to this one gate here at Washington Boulevard and Allegheny River Boulevard,” Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said Thursday morning.  “We’re going to put a visual sensor, a light to indicate that there is power there…to each one of the gates. Officers as well as department of public works and public safety will make sure on a daily basis that that light is lit. If it’s not lit we know that there’s a problem with the system.”

Along with the wiring upgrades, a proactive system monitoring software package will be installed.

“That will allow us to remotely view the system, remotely make sure that the batteries are charging, there is power and that there is good connectivity between the gates and the advanced warning locations,” Public Safety Manager Dan Shak said.

The floodgate system had other problems before last week, including a storm last August when some drivers had to be rescued after the gates didn’t deploy during a storm. It was installed after four people died in an August 2011 flash flood on Washington Boulevard.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation installed the $450,000 system in 2012, but it’s now operated and maintained by the city.

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(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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