Retaining Wall Rehab Schedule Pushed Back
Work on a new wall was supposed to begin in the spring, but the pile of rocks persists in Old Ellicott City.
The retaining wall that crumbled during Tropical Storm Lee last September is still just a pile of rocks, but is scheduled to be rebuilt later this summer.
Last November, Howard County Public Works Deputy Director Mark DeLuca said that construction on a permanent wall would begin in the spring.
“We had to push that schedule back,” he said, “Right now we’re looking at August/September.”
The stone wall at the intersection of Mulligans Hill Lane, Maryland Avenue and St. Paul Street collapsed in September, crushing five cars.
Initially, the county buried the cars with more rock to stabilize the earth behind the wall. The cars, however, still had gas in the tanks and, after one began to smolder, they were dug out and a temporary wall was built until the county could design a permanent solution.
Then the issue of wall ownership came up: Did the county own the retaining wall, or St. Paul’s Church? And who was responsible for its renovation?
“We satisfied ourselves that we owned the wall,” DeLuca said. “Not the entire wall, but certainly the portion that fell.”
The new wall will be mostly funded with federal money from FEMA, DeLuca said. “One of the reasons it’s taking a little longer … is that a requirement [of FEMA] is that they want the wall back to, if possible, its former, historic look.”
“It’s not an onerous burden that they’re putting on us,” he said, but it has required more time than Public Works initially anticipated.
The county has allocated $1.25 million to the design and construction of retaining walls that require "prompt action."
About 75 percent of the cost of design and construction of the Mullgans Lane wall is being funded by FEMA, according to DeLuca.
Once the design phase is complete, DeLuca said, there will be an opportunity for public input at a Public Works hearing.
The “initial plan,” DeLuca said, is to return the 20 or so metered parking spaces, which service the Ghost Town Odditorium tattoo shop as well as the rest of Old Ellicott City.
“We’re talking to the church about repair options and within that we’re saying we want to restore the wall to its old location,” DeLuca said. “That will allow those parking spaces to return.”