ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today updated the community on the incredible progress of the Ellicott City Safe and Sound plan, including demolition of four buildings along lower Main Street and upcoming groundbreakings on the Extended North Tunnel and H-4 Pond. Full text of the speech can be found here.
After the devastating floods in 2011, 2016 and 2018, it became even more apparent that a flood mitigation strategy that would save lives and preserve our historic town was long overdue. Just 24 days after taking office in December of 2018, I unveiled our Ellicott City Safe and Sound Plan. Our goal is to protect and preserve as much of our town as possible while advancing the most effective solutions to reduce and divert upland stormwater away from Main Street. Thanks to our team’s continued effort, tenacity, and shared vision, we have set the stage to make 2024 a year of momentous progress.
This month, Howard County began work to remove the four buildings along lower Main Street, 8049, 8055, 8059 and 8069. This work is being done generally by hand, in a process called building deconstruction. This process will include salvaging character defining elements previously identified for preservation – such as ironwork, cornices, granite and selected doors and windows, to be reused elsewhere in the historic district. Once complete, the site will be stabilized so community members and visitors can begin to enjoy a new, vibrant outdoor space with views of the Tiber River, while plans for an expanded Tiber Park commence.
The prior Administration’s plan, announced in the summer of 2018, after the third recent devastating flood, called for all 10 buildings along the lower southside of Main Street to be demolished, although none of the 10 buildings were owned by the County, at the time. However, after making tangible progress since the launch of Ellicott City Safe and Sound Plan, our plan significantly reduced the number of buildings removed to only four, while the remaining six will be renovated and returned to use. While the loss of these four buildings is bittersweet, we are glad to preserve aspects of six that were previously slated for demolition and this work will help us ensure that Historic Ellicott City can and will prosper for another 250 years and beyond.
In the year ahead, work will begin to construct a new resilient façade on the historic Caplan’s building.
The preservation of these historic structures was made possible thanks to Ball’s inclusion of the bold and innovative Extended North Tunnel project, which was not advanced by the prior administration because it was deemed too challenging. A focal point of Ball’s comprehensive Ellicott City Safe and Sound plan, this transformational tunnel will reduce the risk of flash flooding by diverting water underground and away from Main Street. This 18-foot-diameter underground tunnel will have the capacity to move 26,000 gallons of water per second from the upper West End one mile down to the Patapsco River. This summer, Ball will break ground on this highly anticipated, once-in-a-generation project. Expected to take three years to complete, the Extended North Tunnel will be the single largest public works project that Howard County has ever undertaken.
In addition to the Extended North Tunnel, Ball will also break ground on the plan’s next stormwater retention pond, the H-4 Pond, this summer. Located along Frederick Road, just west of US 29, the H-4 Pond will have the capacity to hold more than five and half million gallons of water, helping to slow the flow of water and protect Historic Ellicott City during storm events.
Since the adoption of EC Safe and Sound, Ball and his team have delivered two of the five planned stormwater retention ponds, with the completion of the H-7 and Quaker Miller ponds, which hold approximately 7.5 million gallons of water during a storm. Once complete, the remaining three ponds combined will hold another 50 million gallons of water.
In addition to the completion of these two ponds, Ball also reiterated additional progress completed thus far, with the installation of High Ground Access Points signage and gates, an outdoor tone-based alert system and a comprehensive debris clearing program to remove debris from waterway following severe weather events. Since the beginning of this debris removal program in 2019, the County has initiated 21 debris removal events and cleared approximately 80,000 pounds of debris from the waterways in and around Ellicott City following storms with high wind and rain.
“As we continue to take the necessary steps to preserve and protect Historic Ellicott City, economy is strong. With vacancy rates in the last two years the lowest they’ve been in three decades, with six new Main Street businesses opening their doors in the last year alone and the reimagining of the historic Circuit Courthouse, the future is bright for our beloved town,” added Ball.
To learn more about Ball’s Ellicott City Safe and Sound Plan, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/county-executive/ellicott-city-safe-and-sound.