If this sounds like you’ve heard this story before, it’s because you have.
Last week was the fourth time in two months that former Bridgeville Mayor Pat DeBlasio Jr. asked borough council to rescind its $488,000 contribution from the Chartiers Creek bridge widening project and invest that money in local flood alleviation.
“That’s $488,000 of our dollars that we could use to solve our flooding problem,” DeBlasio said. “I don’t think that the other communities and institutions involved [in the bridge widening] would object. I think they would understand the need we have in our community and the project, I think, would go on.”
As with the previous three times DeBlasio made this request, borough councilmembers didn’t publicly say much to indicate their thinking on the matter.
On June 11, Bridgeville borough council voted unanimously to contribute $488,000 toward the much-anticipated Chartiers Bridge widening project, which is slated to begin in 2020. Attached to the borough’s payment would be a $300,000 state grant making Bridgeville’s overall contribution $788,000.
Nine days later, a wall of water came down McLaughlin Run Road and everything changed, in DeBlasio’s eyes.
Although Bridgeville has a very obvious traffic problem, the bridge-widening project is still two years from breaking ground, and it represents a regional effort to address a regional problem.
The loss of Bridgeville’s contribution now is unlikely to bring that project to a halt, DeBlasio says.
“This is tough for me,” he told council in July. “That project is near and dear to my heart. I fought for it. But council should rescind its authorization and hold that money for Bridgeville. Between now and 2020, the state or federal government might come up with the money for what is a regional project.”
For Bridgeville, that extra $488,000 could help balance this year’s budget, which is on shaky ground due to flood costs.
It could also help the borough acquire properties from willing sellers in Bridgeville’s most flood-prone areas.
An environmental engineering firm is developing a long-term flood remediation plan that would cost an estimate $30 million to build out. That’s $30 million not including the cost of obtaining the property required to execute the plan.
DeBlasio believe the borough should proceed with property acquisition regardless.
“Even if [the Baldwin Street flood plan] never happens,” DeBlasio told the planning commission earlier this month, “we’ve solved the problem for the people that we acquire property from. They are never going to get flooded again because they are not going to be there. And they aren’t going to sell to somebody else who becomes a resident in a flood zone.”
The borough has been exploring numerous other, smaller-scale flood risk-reduction projects, as well.