ShareThis Page
News

Plan calls for Liberty Bridge stormwater to flow into rain garden near Downtown courts building

Bob Bauder
| Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, 9:00 p.m.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation plans to pipe stormwater from the Liberty Bridge into a rain garden near the Pittsburgh Municipal Courts Building as part of a department initiative to control runoff, officials said.

Similar plans are under way in Philadelphia and the Carlisle area, and soon will include construction projects across the state, according to PennDOT spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick. The Liberty Bridge rain garden is the first of its kind in Western Pennsylvania.

“Philadelphia got started a little earlier because the city came under some prior regulatory mandates, but now, it's coming statewide,” Kirkpatrick said.

Three Rivers Wet Weather, a nonprofit environmental group established to address the region's stormwater problems, pitched the idea of a rain garden to PennDOT's District 11, spokesman Steve Cowan said. Officials agreed to include it in an $84 million Liberty Bridge reconstruction starting this year, he said.

PennDOT won't know how much water will flow into the garden until it finishes the design, he said.

The garden is expected to cost $45,000 and is subject to approval by Pittsburgh City Council and the Pittsburgh Parking Authority, which owns the property. It's planned for a grassy area bordered by the bridge between the courts building and Three Rivers Heritage Trail and will be visible to trail users.

Beth Dutton, program manager for Three Rivers Wet Weather, said the rain garden would filter salts, oils and pollutants deposited on the bridge. Water would be absorbed by plants and drain naturally into the ground, she said.

“Rather than all of that going directly into the river, it will be captured by the mulch and soil in the rain garden,” Dutton said. “What was so great about that location is it's a very public location, and it's right along the trail.”

A federal mandate requires municipalities to cut amounts of sewer and rainwater flowing into streams and rivers.

The Allegheny County Sanitary Authority is planning $2 billion to $3 billion in infrastructure improvements to reduce 9 billion gallons of runoff annually by about 50 percent during the next 10 years.

Pittsburgh and Allegheny County officials and community activists have lobbied Alcosan and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority to include environmentally friendly infrastructure to reduce runoff before it reaches sewers.

Bob Bauder is Tribune-Review staff writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me