Yesterday, as part of his Safe and Sound plan, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced his decision on a comprehensive flood mitigation plan for Ellicott City. Last month, Ball presented the five best options to address flooding and solicited public comment from residents, both online and at a community meeting.
After careful consideration, County Executive Ball chose Option 3G.7.0. The plan includes a range of key projects, including a North Tunnel, that will decrease flood depths and ensure public safety.
The plan comes in the wake of two devastating floods that ravaged downtown Ellicott City. The first flood in 2016 resulted in two deaths and caused roughly $10 million in damages. Last May, severe flash flooding resulted in one death and an estimated $20 million in damages.
According to a press release:
“As we approach the one-year anniversary of the 2018 flood, it is time to come together as a united Howard County. With this bold plan, we are making a statement: This is how we do things in Howard County. We don’t run from our problems and we don’t leave our neighbors behind,” said Ball. “The time for band-aid fixes is over, this is an innovative long-term solution that can only happen if we come together and get to work with everyone’s support. We must leave behind the division, fear and uncertainty of the past and move toward a brighter future for everyone who calls Ellicott City home.”
The previous administration’s plan left 4.5 feet of water on Main Street during a 100-year level storm and called for 10 buildings to demolished. Ball’s plan will leave less than a foot of water on Main Street in the same scenario, and only calls for four buildings to be demolished. Those buildings are Phoenix Emporium, Discoveries, Bean Hollow, and Great Panes Art Glass Studio. Once the county acquires these buildings, they will begin the Section 106 process with the goal of salvaging as much of the buildings’ historic character as possible.
Individual projects in the plan are already underway with the goal of completing the entire plan in 5 years. The current estimates for cost, spread over 5 years and including building demolitions, run between $113.5 and $140.5 million. Within the next year the county will begin construction on the Quaker Mill mitigation pond, design the Maryland Avenue culverts, acquire West End properties, finish design of the Emory and Church Street drainage improvements, put out an RFP for the North Tunnel, and more. A national team of experts from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will also conduct an independent review of the plan.
More details on the flood mitigation plan can be found here.