Plan to prevent persistent flooding on Route 51 now under review

A local nonprofit organization is aiming to combat the persistent flooding problems that have plagued Saw Mill Run Boulveard, or Route 51, for more than a century.

After years of work, through the help of a grant, Watersheds of South Pittsburgh developed a detailed master plan aimed at addressing the issue. A big piece of the proposal involves adding greenspaces along the corridor, according to Executive Director Lisa Werder Brown.

The plan identifies six potential locations that could benefit from added parkland, including the Seldom Seen Greenway, where Brown met with us on Thursday.

“We have a lot of impervious surfaces, pavement along here, and especially along Route 51, if you notice, we have almost four miles of parking lot, because we have four miles of used car lots and businesses that deal with cars,” she said. “That actually exacerbates the problem: when you have that much pavement, the water has nowhere to go, and so it ends up flooding the street.” Brown told us that adding parkland and greenspaces would further create new amenities for city residents and visitors while making the corridor safer and more accessible for pedestrians.

The plan was presented before the Planning Commission this month, and is somewhat of a “rough concept,” Brown explained.

If the commission approves it, council will weigh in next.

From there, Brown said that her team will look at the identified areas and conduct “detailed engineering and design,” while getting input from the community. Then, seeking implementation funding will take place. She said grants will be sought to complete the projects, and the Army Corps. could assist.

She hopes to see projects underway within five years.

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