Wicomico Traffic Detours Planned During Morris Mill Dam Rehab

SALISBURY – County officials this week outlined plans to reroute traffic from a portion of South Division Street later this year to rehabilitate the Morris Mill Dam in Fruitland.

At a public meeting Wednesday, Dallas Baker, public works director for Wicomico County, told residents traffic will be detoured to Route 13 using Cedar Lane in Fruitland and both Milford Street and College Avenue in Salisbury while construction takes place at the Morris Mill Dam.

The project will cost an estimated $1.4 million and take nine to 12 months to complete.

Baker said construction crews will be replacing metal pipes with two six-foot concrete pipes, clearing downstream vegetation, repaving the road and installing a new outfall structure, which has a gate that can be used to lower the water level.

“If we have a hurricane come through, we can lower the water level of the pond so we have some storage volume to hold the rain,” he said.

Baker also said an artificial grass will be added to the downstream slope to prevent erosion.

The pond will not be emptied during construction, but Baker explained construction will stop in late spring and early summer for fish spawning.

He said officials have already reached out to the Town of Fruitland, the City of Salisbury, emergency services and the Wicomico County Board of Education and all are planning accordingly for the detours.

Baker said the project will go out for construction bids in late August and expects construction to begin later in the fall.

“We have to make sure we are keeping our infrastructure in good shape … It’s the stuff you can’t see that has to be replaced,” he said.

The dam, originally constructed in 1946 and later updated in the 1960s, is classified as a high hazard dam by the Maryland Department of the Environment.

“That classification is based on downstream damage that will result if the dam were to fail,” he said. “It has no relation to the condition of the dam.”

He defined the failures as causing loss of life, property damage, and highway flooding.

“There are several communities downstream that would be affected by a failure,” he said.

Baker said the project will address metal pipes, drainage issues and infrastructure that could lead to a dam failure.

“Eventually, this will go,” he said. “I’d rather get it now.”

He said those with questions regarding the Morris Mill Dam project can call the Roads Division of the Wicomico County Department of Public Works at 410-548-4872.

The Morris Mill Dam project is just one of several infrastructure improvements planned in Wicomico County.

Officials this week also announced a host of repaving projects set to begin this year.

Wicomico County budgeted $4.5 million to repave 119 miles of county roads in fiscal year 2018. A majority of the work will begin this fall, but crews with the Roads Division will be stabilizing shoulders, rehabilitating ditches and replacing cross road pipes in preparation for the projects.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.