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City Seeks Solution for Mansfield Bridge Ramp Flooding

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
March 14, 2018
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Above: McKeesport public works crews clear flooding at the end of the Mansfield Bridge following a severe storm June 13, 2017. (Tube City Almanac file photo)

McKeesport officials are hoping to have a lasting solution this summer to flooding problems that have forced repeated street closures at the southern end of the Mansfield Bridge.

Council this month authorized the administration to seek $255,000 from the state's Small Water and Sewer Program for repairs to a storm sewer under West Fifth Avenue.

The city will be required to match the grant, if received, with at least $45,000 of its own funding, Mayor Michael Cherepko said.

City engineer Jim Garvin said the grant money would initially fund a thorough inspection of the line, so that the scope of the work can be planned out.

Until that happens, Garvin cautioned, he's only speculating on what has clogged the storm drain, which runs from the eastbound lanes of West Fifth Avenue, under Casturo Iron & Metal and the CSX railroad tracks, and drains into the Monongahela River.

The drain carries only storm water, not sanitary sewage, but has to handle a substantial amount of water that runs off the hillside from McKeesport's upper 10th Ward, as well as from Port Vue, he said.

"A lot of debris and sediment comes down that valley," Garvin said. "Sometimes, what happens is that you get, for example, a tree branch, or a piece of refuse, or some rocks wedged in there, and it provides a place for more and more debris to get wedged."

Several heavy rains in 2017 caused the street to flood and forced city public works crews to use front-end loaders and dump trucks to clear the mud and water.

During one especially bad storm in June, water backed up as high as the three-foot-high concrete barriers lining the approach ramps to the bridge, trapping two cars whose drivers had to be rescued.

But rain and melting snow have already caused minor flooding and lane restrictions on the street in 2018.

"It's a real nuisance," Garvin said. "It's especially a problem when you have ground that's already saturated or frozen, and there's nowhere for the water to go. The ground just can't absorb as much water as it can in July."

He's hopeful that the drain can be cleared and cleaned without having to be excavated.

The city hopes to have an answer to its grant application in April, Garvin said. If the grant is approved, work might begin in early summer, he said, after the specifications are finalized and a contract is awarded.

Originally published March 14, 2018.

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