PORT DEPOSIT — A letter of intent is being sent to the US Army Corps of Engineers with word that town officials plan to apply for grant money that would go a long way toward solving Port Deposit’s flooding issues.
“This is huge,” said Vicky Rinkerman, town administrator. “I don’t even have to tell you guys how big this is.”
Meanwhile the town is also working toward a $1.6 million project to address stormwater runoff along Granite Avenue and Race Street. Maryland’s Community Development Block Grant is being asked to provide matching funds on behalf of Port Deposit, Rinkerman said of the drainage improvement project.
“This is just to put in curbing and drainage to catch the water that comes off the cliff and down the street,” Rinkerman said. USDA already has allotted $602,000 for the project and has given the town a $245,000 loan. “We hope to get CDBG funds to match USDA.”
But even more exciting was word of possible action on a US Army Corps of Engineers suggestion to address another water issue. Addressing the mayor and town council, Rinkerman explained that USACE is making a huge pot of money available, which Port Deposit could use to install flood gates. These gates would go at Vannort Drive and Netters Alley, the town locations where water leaves the Susquehanna River and inundates downtown.
In a geo-technical study conducted by AECom engineers found six ways to hold back the river, all levees engaging the Norfolk Southern Railroad overpasses as the best solution.
Suggestions went from installation of ballast equipment as needed, to construction of sliding metal gates. Port Deposit would need at least $2 million just for the equipment. The cost of construction would be markedly higher.
Exelon, the company that owns and operates The Conowingo Dam, funded a study of the rail bed strength in a flood event.
“Norfolk Southern has to decide what to require as proof it could be a levee,” Rinkerman said.
However the town learned of the USACE grant availability that could fund the next step and Rinkerman isn’t wasting any time.
“We’re sending a letter of intent,” she said. That letter puts Port Deposit in the queue for the application of grant funds. “This is where we are...USACE funding it if this is viable.”
All this prep work, according to Rinkerman, allows the town to present both projects as “shovel ready” when funding arrives.