ALLEGHENY COUNTY (KDKA) — Rain has been causing a lot of flooding around the region this year.
One of the hardest hit places is along McKnight Road in the North Hills, and crews may have figured out the reason why.
The sun was breaking through the clouds in the North Hills late Friday afternoon, which meant no additional rain, at least for the time being. That’s good news for a section of McKnight Road, which has been plagued recently by chronic flooding because of the heavy rains.
The last thing anyone wants is additional rain before a contractor has time to repair an old broken underground storm water line which Ross Township officials believe is responsible for the persistent flooding, which has drivers frustrated.
Faye Liebro says she and her mother were recently on McKnight Road, when the road was flooded by high water.
“They need to fix this, so it’s safer for everybody,” Liebro told KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti. “We’re all tired of it.”
Watch John Shumway’s report —
“For the last three or four weeks, we’ve seen an incredible number of floods on McKnight Road, some larger than others,” Ross Township commissioner Stephen Korbel said. “We believe [the broken pipe] was the cause. It’s located on private property, so it’s not the Township’s responsibility.”
But officials say the Township will worry about property lines later.
“We need to be proactive, and we need to find a solution,” Korbel said.
Brush and trees have now been cleared from the excavation area, and heavy equipment is on scene in standby mode.
The collapsed section of pipe is behind an old McKnight Road mattress store. The pipe is about five feet in diameter, and 20 or-so feet underground.
“We went down in and looked upstream, and we could actually see the collapse,” Public Works director Michael Funk said. “There was probably 20 percent of the pipe open.”
When there’s a lot of rain over a short span of time, the ruptured line creates an underground dam, and the overflow ends up in a low point in and around the intersection McKnight and Seibert Roads.
A couple of years ago, a large sinkhole opened up in a McKnight Road parking lot, and partially swallowed a car. The broken sewer line that caused the sinkhole is part of the same main storm water system involved in the more recent flooding.
Watch Bob Allen’s report —
There’s a similar situation along Streets Run Road in the South Hills. Mud, rocks and water have covered the road on numerous occasions over the past few weeks, and one business owner is fed up with it.
A creek has caused severe flooding along Streets Run Road more than half a dozen times so far this year. Baldwin Borough officials admit something has to be done to correct the problem, but it won’t be easy.
“Topography is a challenge,” Baldwin Borough business manager John Barrett said. “It’s at a low point, steep slopes around it, urbanized area. So yeah, it has its challenges.”
When the water rises, it always seems to happen in front of business owner Tim Chapon’s greenhouses. Water usually gets close to the front door, but once this year, about 4 feet found its way into the greenhouse.
Flooding has happened eight times outside of Chapon’s, and it’s taking a toll on the owners.
“It’s more than just a clean-up,” Chapon said. “It’s just the lost business. I mean, the dollars add up.”
This year, the borough declared an emergency and met with state officials to get an emergency permit to clean up the creek.
“We’ve walked the stream. We know there’s a concrete block, there’s low-hanging trees,” Barrett said. “There’s a lot of areas where the stream just can’t pass and it goes onto the roadway.”
Barrett says they’re looking at ways to fix the problem in Baldwin, but they don’t want to make conditions worse for people who live downstream in Hayes.
“The fear is, you know, downstream from there, you hear about the neighborhood of Hayes that also has flooding,” Barrett said. “So you gotta careful that what we do doesn’t create a worse situation for our neighbors below us.”
No timetable has been set for when the creek will be cleaned up. The borough hopes to one day replace Streets Run Road to permanently eliminate flooding.