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Development & Transportation

PennDOT Builds Floodgates in Pittsburgh

Construction will begin Tuesday on a floodgate system on Washington Boulevard and Highland Drive aimed at preventing the same type of tragedy that took the life of four people earlier this year.

"We've been designing the project for the last several months and we anticipate starting construction this week and wrapping it up in the first part of 2012, hopefully by January," said PennDOT District 11 Executive Dan Cesna.

The $450,000 system will use pressure sensors to detect when a pre-determined amount of water is present. When that happens, it will automatically close the three automated traffic gates and activate five advance warning signs. The system also notifies emergency response personnel of the flooding.

Cessna said the sensors wouldn't be solely responsible for running the gates. "The gates, while activated by sensors, require manual operation to open the roadway," said Cesna, "So you would have to have personnel actually inspect the area, determine that it's safe, and then reopen the gates."

When the construction is done, maintenance and operation of the system will be taken over by the City of Pittsburgh. The work could create some short-term lane restrictions.

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