Maryland's ambitious flood mitigation project set to break ground in Ellicott City

(UI) — In a significant development for Ellicott City, Maryland, groundbreaking is set to commence this summer for a colossal underground tunnel aimed at combatting floods, WTOP News reported.

The Extended North Tunnel, designed to carry 26,000 gallons of stormwater per second through a mile-long, 18-foot diameter tunnel, is a crucial element in the multimillion-dollar initiative to mitigate flooding on the historic Main Street, which suffered devastating floods in 2016 and 2018.

According to WTOP, the project was originally slated to break ground in December 2022 with an $82 million budget, however, the tunnel's costs surged to $130 million, causing a delay.

However, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced an injection of $68 million in new funding over the past year. Describing it as a "once-in-a-generation" project, Ball anticipates the construction to span three years, making it Howard County's most extensive public works endeavor.

Simultaneously, under the "Ellicott City Safe and Sound" plan, county crews have commenced the careful deconstruction of four buildings along lower Main Street. This preservation-focused approach aims to salvage significant architectural elements for future use. Ball emphasized the historical significance of these structures and expressed the commitment to preserve and renovate the remaining six, including the iconic Caplan’s Department Store building.

The cleared space from the demolished buildings will transform into a vibrant outdoor area overlooking the Tiber River by the Summer of 2024, marking a pivotal step towards the realization of an expanded Tiber Park and the ongoing revitalization of Lower Main Street. Ellicott City, founded in 1772 and perennially susceptible to flooding due to its topography, faced severe floods in 2011, 2016, and 2018, resulting in fatalities.

The ambitious flood mitigation project, along with the careful preservation of Ellicott City's historical structures, reflects Maryland's commitment to safeguarding the town's future and ensuring its prosperity for generations to come.

This story was originally published by WTOP.

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