After being blown-out by floods, route to Ellicott City’s Main Street reopened

Last May’s flooding washed-out a portion of Ellicott Mills Drive, near the intersection with Main Street, cutting-off a main route into the most popular portion of flood-prone tourist destination. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
On May 27, 2018 a portion of Ellicott Mills Drive was washed away, when an aluminum culvert carrying the surging Tiber Creek failed during flooding.
On May 27, 2018, a portion of Ellicott Mills Drive was washed away during flooding, after an old aluminum culvert carrying the Tiber Creek below the roadway was overwhelmed. (Courtesy photo, WTOP) (Courtesy photo)
An aluminum culvert, similar to this one, was blown out during last May’s flooding, washing away a portion of Ellicott Mills Drive. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Howard County has built a concrete culvert that's 24 feet wide by 13 feet high  and repaved the portion of Ellicott Mills Drive that was washed away in May 2018. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Howard County has constructed a concrete culvert, 24 feet wide by 13 feet high, to carry the Tiber Creek, beneath the newly repaved portion of Ellicott Mills Drive that was washed away last May. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
The taller, wider, stronger concrete culvert will carry the Tiber Creek below Ellicott Mills Drive, at the intersection with Main Street. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Even after the stretch of Ellicott Mills Drive reopened Friday to car traffic, specifics of the sidewalk in the historic district are still being discussed. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Howard County hopes reopening a primary route to Main Street will help attract visitors during Saturday's SpringFest. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Howard County hopes reopening a primary route to Main Street will help attract visitors during Saturday’s SpringFest. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
(1/7)
On May 27, 2018 a portion of Ellicott Mills Drive was washed away, when an aluminum culvert carrying the surging Tiber Creek failed during flooding.
Howard County has built a concrete culvert that's 24 feet wide by 13 feet high  and repaved the portion of Ellicott Mills Drive that was washed away in May 2018. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Howard County hopes reopening a primary route to Main Street will help attract visitors during Saturday's SpringFest. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

The flood destruction was both literal and symbolic, but the reopening of a stretch of road leading to Ellicott City’s Main Street is a major step forward as the city recovers from two “thousand-year storms” in two years.

During the May 27, 2018 flooding, a 25-foot portion of Ellicott Mills Drive — a primary entry route to Ellicott City’s historic Main Street — was washed away.

Howard County reopened the closed stretch of Ellicott Mills Drive on Friday after building a sturdy waterway under the road, aimed at preventing future devastation during heavy rains.

Last year, an aluminum culvert, installed in 1970, approximately 9 feet high by 13 feet wide, was overwhelmed as the Tiber River surged during 7 inches of rain, sweeping tons of cars downstream to where three creeks dump into the Patapsco River.

Now, 11 months later, a new culvert, made of 57 precast concrete pieces — each weighing 23 tons — runs below the newly-paved Ellicott Mills Drive.

The road was fully opened to car traffic Friday, just in time for Saturday’s SpringFest.

The historic mill town has always been vulnerable to flooding, in part because of its location in a valley of the upper Western Branch of the Patapsco, near where the Tiber Branch, Hudson Branch, Autumn Hill Branch and New Cut Branch all converge.

The Tiber crisscrosses Main Street in several places between Rogers Avenue and the Patapsco, in culverts that steer the water as it snakes downhill through the town.

County Executive Calvin Ball recently announced Phase 2 of plans to minimize the impact to the city during future flooding.

County officials hope reopening access from Ellicott Mills Drive in time for SpringFest will help business owners who suffered as visitors had to navigate alternate routes to get to the most popular and flood-prone stretch of Main Street.

The free and family-friendly SpringFest is Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. and will feature music on three outdoor stages, as well as crafts, food, wine, and locally brewed craft beer.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2019 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up