Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced changes to the Ellicott City Safe & Sound plan that would extend the North Tunnel, eliminating the need for the previously planned flood mitigation projects for the West End of Ellicott City.
The extended North Tunnel would start around 8800 Frederick Road and run approximately 5,000 feet to the Patapsco River. The current design begins in Lot F of Ellicott City.
In a 2016 Ellicott City flood scenario, the extended tunnel is anticipated to reduce water on the street from approximately three-and-a-half feet to less than half a foot. The extended North Tunnel also negates the need for any building removal on the West End, saving at least nine buildings previously slated for demolition.
“Our goal for the Safe and Sound plan continues to focus on solutions that will keep Ellicott City safe and thriving for generations to come. The extension of the North Tunnel has four major benefits – it is anticipated to reduce water levels, eliminate other projects, save homes and historical properties, and is anticipated to be cost neutral,” said Ball. “This is a significant change to our plan but one that achieves the goals we have always set out to achieve – less water on the street, fewer buildings that need to be removed, and a safer town for all.”
The extended North Tunnel should be cost neutral with the elimination of the West End projects. The cost of the North Tunnel is anticipated to be funded by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan program operated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Howard County was invited to apply to the program earlier this year.
Approximately 10 easements will be needed to complete the extended North Tunnel project, with only three of those easements a result of the extension. The extended tunnel will be primarily constructed well below the ground surface, outside of utility clearances, and away from existing buildings.
Water will enter the tunnel in at least two locations – at the primary intake structure located on the north side of the 8800 Block of Frederick Road and one in Parking Lot F. These entry points will capture storm flows and direct them into the tunnel where the water will then be conveyed below ground by gravity to the Patapsco River.
The county’s goal is to begin construction in 2022, pending the availability of funding, the receipt of applicable permits, and authorization from CSX.
Watch County Executive Ball’s press conference HERE.