Heavy Rain Damages Roads In Frederick County

Frederick’s Mayor Declares State of Emergency; city asks residents to limit water usage.


Frederick, Md (KM). A number of roads sustained a lot of  damage during Tuesday’s heavy rains and  wind which came through Frederick County. Mike Ramsberg, Maintenance Supervisor for the County’s Highway Operations agency, says most of the roads were located in the Jefferson area. “If you kind of draw a triangle from Frederick to Jefferson to Middletown along the lines of Route 40A and {Route} 180 in that area, that’s where the majority of the damage occurred,” he says.

Ramsberg says in many cases, water came over the top of the road, displacing the asphalt, and causing damage to the road surface and the shoulders. “There will have to be material brought back in to stabilize the edge of the road, and then those areas would need to repaved at some point in the summer,” he says.

He says the roads which experienced the most damage are Old Middletown Road, Catholic Church Road, Gapland Road east of Burkittsville, and Mount Zion and Elmer Derr Roads.

The State Highway Administration says Route 180, also known as Jefferson Pike, has been closed between Petersville Road (Route 79) and Burkittsville Road (Route 17) near Brunswick.. Spokesman Charlie Gischlar says the rain did a lot of damage. “It overwhelmed the culvert, which is basically a pipe that goes under the roadway, where Little Catoctin Creek goes underneath of Jefferson Pike, just to the east of Maryland 17, Burkittsville Road. People know where that is. So that totally washed out that part of the roadway,” he says.

He says SHA hopes to develop a plan to make repairs to that stretch of roadway. “We have divers on the scene looking at what the scour is underneath that pipe, and seeing what we can salvage and just how extensive it is. It could be a week,  It could be a little bit more, depending on what those divers find,” Gischlar says.

There was also erosion detected on a part of Route 180. “Near Mount Zion Road, there was some pretty significant slope erosion. The slope is the thing that holds up the roadway. So we’re doing a flagging operation there. It’s not totally closed like it is down near Maryland 17. But we’re doing a flagging operation there for the next couple of days to shore ups that slope, rebuild it again,” he says.

SHA says as an alternate,  motorist should use Route 340 which parallels Route 180.

Both Frederick County Highway Operations and the SHA are concerned that rain in the forecast for the remainder of the week could slow down any repair plans. But both agencies say they’re ready if the county receives more precipitation.

Due to the heavy rains on Tuesday, Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor has declared a State of Emergency. He says he signed the declaration to make sure residents were aware of the weather. “Because of the intensity of the storm on Tuesday night and continued presence of rain in the forecast, the kinds of flooding incidents that we saw overnight Tuesday into Wednesday are still possible. There are still scenarios where the heavy rains are going to create hazardous conditions, and we just want our residents to be safe,” he says.

In addition, the issuance of a State of Emergency provides the city the opportunity to apply for state and federal assistance which may be available. “You account for everything. You make the declarations, and you wait. You wait to see whether or the state or the federal government sees the same things we see on the ground,” he says.

On Wednesday, Mayor O’Connor toured the city to survey the damage, and met with the Lt. Governor. He says the damage he saw at the YMCA where the basement was flooded, and the parking lot of the now closed Frederick Town Mall shows the power of nature. “The first thing that strikes me is how powerful the rushing water is,” says O’Connor. :”You can just see from vehicles that are in places where they don’t belong; park equipment that was picked up and moved, and the fences that were knocked down.”

Also, Washington County Government has declared a State of Emergency due the severity of the flash flooding in the Sharpsburg area, and Route 67 south of Gapland Road to the county line. Officials there say many areas remain impassible  to motor vehicles, and a number of roads sustained physical damage.

In Frederick, the Department of Public Works is asking residents to refrain from any non-essential water use. Officials say the wastewater treatment plant  has been inundated following the historic floods, and limiting non-essential water use will help avoid the  additional overflow and backups to collection lines  and homes.

DPW will be holding a specialized storm cleanup and commercial collection in downtown Frederick on Thursday. Collection times to drop off items damaged by the storm are at 4:00 AM and 11:00 AM. Residents in other areas can set up their storm-damaged items during their regular collection days, but DPW needs to contacted to confirm.


By Kevin McManus