Stockton Bridge Repairs Deemed Critical

SNOW HILL – County leaders agreed to seek the support of the Eastern Shore delegation as they work to replace a bridge damaged during an October storm.

On Tuesday, the Worcester County Commissioners approved bid documents associated with the replacement of the Big Millpond Bridge near Stockton. At the urging of Commissioner Merrill Lockfaw, they also agreed to send a letter to local delegates asking for any possible help in expediting the work. Lockfaw said the water level in the area — down since a storm damaged the bridge and washed out the road — was important to local farmers.

“I have one constituent that depends on the water level in there for irrigation of his crops,” Lockfaw said.
“He’s already told me this is going to put him in a grave hardship if that water’s not available.”

The bridge over Swan Gut Creek near Stockton was damaged in the beginning of October, when the Eastern Shore experienced significant flooding after large amounts of rain.

According to Worcester County Public Works Director John Tustin, engineers from Davis, Bowen and Friedel spent the past several weeks preparing bid documents and specifications for the bridge replacement. Tustin said Tuesday that while he initially thought the necessary permits from the Maryland Department of the Environment were imminent, he’d been notified by other state officials that a variety of agencies had to sign off on the work because it involved critical areas and potential sea level change.

“When we applied for state aid … that’s when they revealed all these issues,” Tustin said.

Tustin is hoping that the state will cover 80 percent of the estimated cost of the bridge replacement, which is projected to be $428,882. He said that while the county was still waiting for the variety of necessary approvals, he’d applied for the required permits as an “emergency” and was hoping the process would move quickly.

He told the commissioners he was still seeking their approval to begin soliciting bids for the bridge replacement so that work could begin as soon as the permits were received.

“It’s very important to get the project out for bid,” Tustin said. “We can at least get the ball rolling.”

At Lockfaw’s suggestion that the county send a letter to local delegates advising them of the situation, Tustin said anything that might speed up the process would help.

“Without permits, we can’t go in,” he said.

The commissioners voted unanimously to approve the bid documents and to inform the local delegation of the urgency of the project.