Nanticoke Road on course to open by summer

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Five months after a rain-laden storm caused flooding that washed out about 1,000 feet of Nanticoke Road, work is continuing to repair it, with tentative plans to reopen around Memorial Day.

Jason Smith, area engineer for the SHA in Salisbury said the contractor, David A. Bramble Inc. in Chestertown, is “heavily working on it right now,” replacing the section between Oliver Drive and Rockawalkin Road.

“We aren’t holding anything back. The contractor is committed to getting things done. The goal is to have it open. If it’s early, that’s great,” Smith said this week.

“We’re at a bad time of year for this kind of work, when you’re getting inches and inches of rain.

“Because of the dam failure that happened a few years ago, they mostly took it back to the drawing board. We wanted a better design. We wanted something that is really going to work so we don’t have to do this again,” he said.

Also, approval from various department heads was needed and it was time consuming.

“You don’t build a dam in an emergency. There are a lot of calculations, how much water is being let through, etc. All the designs got done with an expedient process, but getting work done this year was kind of tough. It’s hard to work in soil, especially soil that is subterranean and especially when you are getting inches and inches of rain,” Smith said.

“We had to drive sheet pile to get the water level down and we asked God to stop dumping new water on us They we got in there and prosecute the work in an expedient fashion,” he said.

The box culvert is fully completed and now, he said, workers will undertake the painstaking process of putting all the pieces back together.

He described the original structure that drains the Riawalkin Pond as an island. During the storm in November, about a dozen trees broke loose in the pond, floated and clogged the entire draining structure, causing water to rise.

The night, there was an attempt to open the drain, but water went up over Nanticoke Road, causing erosion and washing out half of it.

“We stripped tree roots and dirt and the pipe, I guess, burped and spit out a lot of solid stuff, restoring that part of drainage, but the road was washed out. Mother Nature can be vicious. It carried away half the road or better,” Smith explained.

As the water level rose, the SHA closed the road and it was quickly realized the drainage structure was jammed.

“We had a two-day window trying everything we could to get that junk out of there. You were standing in waist-deep water, basically. It rained 7 inches in a 24-hour period.

“The storm pulled trees by roots. It took trees and a 25-foot long floating mass of soil, trees, root matter and floated it down into the riser structure of the drain,” Smith said.

He didn’t have a cost estimate for repairs, saying only it was an emergency contract.

Dallas Baker, Director of Public Works for Wicomico County, said when callers ask when the road will reopen, he reminds them it’s a state matter.

“No one is calling up directly to complain about it, but when they call to ask about Morris Mill Dam then they bring up Nanticoke Road, or if they call about anything Public Works-related. They will say, ‘Yes, I know it’s a state road but what have you guys heard?’” Baker said.

Smith said his SHA office has had “a fair share” of calls, too.

“People are not happy with the traffic situation because of the detour. It increases traffic on the roads that don’t necessarily get that much traffic unless there’s a detour. People are complaining about traffic speeding past their houses and not being able to back out of their driveways,” he said.

Maryland State Police have been asked to monitor the area for speeding, Smith said.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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