Allegheny County will roll out a comprehensive website charting the locations of landslides and slide-prone areas across the county and offering information that municipalities and residents can use to detect, prevent and remediate slides.
The county Landslide Portal includes an interactive map showing the locations of reported slides, areas susceptible to slides and roads owned by the county and the state. It also provides information on the causes, types and effects of slides, best practices for dealing with them and contact information for emergency management coordinators for each municipality.
County officials want residents and municipal officials to report slide areas to emergency coordinators. They say the site will be regularly updated as municipal officials review it and report slides.
“It’s basically being developed to provide an educational guide for municipal leaders,” said Steve Shanley, the county’s public works director. “The county executive wanted to give them a tool that they can use when landslides happen.”
County officials said the map can also be useful for prospective home buyers to determine whether a home they are considering is in a slide-prone area.
Users can browse the map and click on a marked slide to find out where it happened and possible causes. Pittsburgh’s notorious “red bed” soil makeup is particularly prone to sliding and is a main cause of many of the slides that have happened, according to the website. Another major cause is water and incorrect drainage.
The site also offers best practices on the proper techniques for stormwater mitigation.
“We had record rainfall last year, and we’re ahead of that this year,” Shanley said. “These storms seem to be sitting in certain areas and not moving through. It’s challenging for us, the city, PennDOT and the homeowners.”
County Executive Rich Fitzgerald last year established a landslides task force headed by Shanley and Emergency Services Chief Matt Brown. It included state and federal conservation officials along with representatives from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.
The website was developed in-house by the county, according to county spokeswoman Amie Downs.