Westinghouse Flood Gate

Now disused, the Westinghouse Flood Gate was constructed along Turtle Creek near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as a method to prevent catastrophic floods.

The Turtle Creek Flood Control Project was constructed along Turtle Creek near East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as a method to prevent catastrophic floods within the Turtle Creek valley. The project was the result of a 1907 flood, the St. Patrick’s Day Flood of 1936 and another flood in May 1946 that brought back flow from the Monongahela River into the Turtle Creek valley, flooding Turtle Creek and Wilmerding – and the Westinghouse Electric Corporation’s East Pittsburgh Works.

Two floodgates, one 80-feet by 30-feet to dam the creek and a 40-foot by 20-foot to dam Braddock Avenue, was constructed from July 1937 to January 1938 at a cost of $500,000. When the gates were not in use, they were held 20 feet above the Braddock Street level. The pumping system at the floodgate consisted of three pumps, each driven by 5,000 horsepower electric motors with a combined capacity of 7,500 cubic feet per second, or more than 3.3 million gallons of water a minute.

Maintenance by the Turtle Creek Valley Flood Control Authority (TCVFCA), comprised of East Pittsburgh, Turtle Creek and Wilmerding, was minimal, with only a total of $162,000 expended in 1967, 1969 and 1970. It was estimated that $56,000 would need to be spent to maintain the project.

In 1982, the Turtle Creek Watershed Association upgraded the computer program that controlled the Westinghouse floodgates and pumps, and automated several processes that previously required complex written manuals. But by 1983, the flood control projects along Turtle Creek had deteriorated and required $1.3 million in construction to return the project to as-built conditions. The floodgate and pumps underneath the Westinghouse Bridge had been rendered useless due to silt buildup. The debris basins had become clogged and required dredging but the TCVFCA was not able to raise the money needed to maintain the waterway.

In the Turtle Creek Valley Strategic Action Plan, 2000-2010, the Turtle Creek Valley Council of Governments (TCVCOG) evaluated the cost of operating the Westinghouse floodgate and determined that the operation and maintenance of the facility placed an unsustainable financial burden on the host municipalities of East Pittsburgh, Turtle Creek and Wilmerding. TCVCOG recommended that the Army Corps of Engineers perform a reconnaissance study to determine if the floodgate is needed after the implementation and future operation of the new Lock and Dam No. 2 on the Monongahela River.

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