Governor's initiative essential to protecting flood prone communities

Echoing Governor Edward G. Rendell's call to "Rebuild Pennsylvania," Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty highlighted the critical flood protection needs along Streets Run in the Hays section of Pittsburgh, where residents have experienced how devastating storms can uproot lives and destroy property. The Governor's proposal will invest $100 million for flood-control projects like Streets Run over the next three years...

• DEP Secretary says projects, like Streets Run in Pittsburgh, eligible for state investment

PITTSBURGH, PA, Feb. 7, 2008 -- Echoing Governor Edward G. Rendell's call to "Rebuild Pennsylvania," Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty today highlighted the critical flood protection needs along Streets Run in the Hays section of Pittsburgh, where residents have experienced how devastating storms can uproot lives and destroy property.

"Streets Run is just one example of the flood protection projects across the state that are in desperate need of funding to ensure the safety of citizens and property and to protect economic vitality," said McGinty. "The Governor's Rebuild Pennsylvania initiative is designed to provide the resources we need to repair aging infrastructure and take on new projects that will give residents confidence in the quality of life they now enjoy."

The Streets Run watershed has a long history of flooding, affecting many homes and businesses, especially on Calera Street and Baldwin Road. Several factors, including deteriorating retaining walls, low channel streambanks, inadequate bridge structures and an ineffective culvert, have contributed to the past floods and devastation in the community.

The Governor's proposal will invest $100 million for flood-control projects like Streets Run over the next three years. Of that total, approximately $91 million would be for capital flood protection projects, while the balance would be available to increase the number of flood-protection grants awarded to municipalities each year, boost support for stream improvement projects, and complete emergency closure work and rehabilitation projects.

Under the enhanced flood-protection program, the state will have additional resources to help communities rehabilitate existing flood-protection structures and construct new ones, like waterway channels, floodwalls, levees and stream bank stabilization.

"Pennsylvania is one of the most flood-prone states in the nation, leaving more than 1,350 homes destroyed in their wake over just the past few years," said McGinty. "Under the Governor's proposal, we can prevent further devastation."

Debt incurred for flood mitigation efforts will be paid by collecting a 7-cents-per-$100 surcharge on the insurance premiums of residential and commercial properties, which would be placed in a dedicated account. Total flood-related debt service in 2011 is expected to be $3.3 million.

Rebuild Pennsylvania also includes a plan to address unsafe high-hazard dams in the commonwealth, along with outdated aviation and rail facilities. In addition to the $16 million for capital and municipal flood control projects and $12 million for repairs to state-owned dams in the first year of the plan, the initiative will accelerate the availability of $200 million for bridge repairs, $10 million for new rail freight projects, and $5 million for aviation projects in fiscal year 2008-09.

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