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Route 30 landslide East Pittsburgh.jpg

Damage from a landslide on Route 30 in East Pittsburgh in 2018. (Gov. Tom Wolf via Flickr)

Lawmakers hope a bill that would establish a state landslide insurance, recovery, and mitigation program moves forward in Harrisburg this fall.

The state Senate bill would establish two funds; one that residents and businesses could pay into to receive state insurance, and another that municipalities could access to fund prevention and recovery efforts. Each program would require initial funding of $2.5 million to start.

The bill includes provisions that aim for the Landslide Insurance Fund to be self-sustaining through premium payments. The separate Landslide Assistance Fund would be distributed through grants, and is expected to require continued support from the state.

Heavy rains over the past few years could cause an increased risk of landslides. Allegheny County State Senator Jay Costa said that if the region continues to see an uptick in landslides, and “communities are coming to members and saying … ‘we need help on landslides, because we’re getting crushed,'” the bill would gain more widespread support.

Landslides have continued to be an issue in the region, harming roadways, homes and businesses. Currently, private insurance policies typically give little coverage for problems caused by landslides. 

“There’s no question, over the course of the past couple years, landslides have really become a major infrastructure problem here, and particularly in Southwestern Pennsylvania and in particular in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County,” said Costa.

Allegheny County handles landslides with emergency response and resource allocation, but outside of state aid, little support for things like cracked foundations and crumbling bridges exists, according to county communications director Amie Downs. The legislation would be an extension of those state resources. If passed, the funds would be established under the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.