ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - Howard County officials unveiled an aggressive new plan to reduce flooding in historic Ellicott City on Monday. The plan includes tearing down some buildings, digging a tunnel and spending well over $100 million.
"The previous plan called for more buildings to be knocked down and left more water on Main Street. Our plan is ambitious but it is achievable and it is realistic,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball.
Almost a year ago, Ellicott City’s Main Street was underwater after the second 100-year flood in two years destroyed businesses and left one man dead.
Eddison "Eddie" Hermond was swept away when he attempted to save a woman trapped by the rising waters. His body was recovered by rescue crews in the Patapsco River, just across the Baltimore County line.
Ball’s new plan calls for a tunnel to be built under the town that will parallel Main Street. Four buildings will be torn down — all on one side of Main Street near the train station. Phoenix Emporium will go along with three other buildings.
Residents and business owners FOX 5 talked to Monday were impressed with what's being called the “Safe and Sound” plan.
"Well, I thought it was bold, I thought it was actually an investment in the future and I really liked the county executive's emphasis on resilience and making Ellicott City a model for the United States and the rest of the world, which I believe is watching what we are doing here,” said Randy Marriner of the Victoria Restaurant Group.
"I'm thrilled for a number of reasons. One, we needed a plan and I think this plan, while it is expensive, is probably going to accomplish the most. It is going to make the town safer and it is going to give people security that when it is raining you can safely come to old Ellicott City,” said
"I'm used to government picking the lowest cost option and governments picking the lowest cost solution and this is a pretty expensive option and to be committed to that is impressive because it's been studied to be one of the better solutions,” said Nicholas Johnson of Su Casa Furniture.
The proposed five-year plan may cost around $140 million.