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Memorial Blvd. underpass still a problem

City acquires FEMA grant for warning system, gate, in event of flooding

September 23, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com

Even after extensive work over the past few months to address the issue, flooding of the West Memorial Boulevard railroad underpass remains a problem, a city official said Friday.

Eric Deike, manager of the city’s Public Works Department, said in an email that the roadway is still subject to flooding, although the blocked stormwater drain under the street has technically been fixed.

“Under short, heavy rains, the underpass still floods,” he said. “The underdrain was modified in 2008 to empty directly into Marsh Run. When Marsh Run floods due to the sudden, heavy rainfall ... the underdrain has no place to flow.”

This is because Marsh Run, which runs parallel to Memorial Boulevard as it heads east from City Park toward Antietam Creek, is the collector for rainwater runoff from the streets and it floods quickly, Deike said.

“So, no, the flooding issue is not completely solved, but the majority of flooding issues, we believe, will not be a problem,” he said. “When it does flood, the water recedes quickly, as compared to past years.”

As a way to mitigate intermittent flooding issues, the city applied for and has received a $14,625 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that is administered through the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.

The Hazard Mitigation Grant, which requires a 25 percent match in funds, labor, materials or equipment, will be used to purchase and install warning lights activated by floodwaters at the underpass to warn motorists; a telephone message to the 911 center that tells emergency officials that the street is flooded; as well as two gates that can be used to close the street to traffic in the event of a flood.

“The warning system will activate as the floodwaters rise, giving motorists a visible warning responsive to the immediate conditions and not to the delay in a human being determining if the underpass is flooding or not,” Deike said.

The city learned about the grant in spring 2010 while government agencies were seeking reimbursement after the blizzards of February 2010, and Hagerstown applied for the money the following spring, he said.

Deike said the grant requires that work be completed by June 20, 2015, but the city intends to have it finished long before then.

The total estimate for material, labor and equipment is about $19,500, he said.

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