PITTSBURGH – In the heart of the Pittsburgh District lies a realty office working quietly behind the scenes to support the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ mission.
This is where blueprints and digital maps of federal lands meet the real needs of construction projects and determine decisions on the front lines of property lines.
While Pittsburgh may be known for its rivers and bridges, much of its surrounding landscape would be vastly different today without the reservoirs that hold back rain and prevent catastrophic flooding in the region.
The Pittsburgh District owns and operates 16 reservoirs and 23 locks and dams, but none of those lakes or navigation facilities would be possible without the land needed to create them.
“One of the things that makes my job meaningful is that everything starts and ends with real estate,” said Nakita Smith, a team lead realty specialist for the Pittsburgh District. “It means that no project can begin without first acquiring the necessary lands to build the project.”
Even though the Pittsburgh District belongs to the U.S. Army, its mission deals with mostly civil works, not military construction. The district builds and maintains dams to form reservoirs, locks and dams to support river navigation, and local-protection projects to reduce river flooding in places like Johnstown and Punxsutawney.
In the case of a reservoir, adding a dam means…