Extensive Dam Rehabilitation Project Nears End

SALISBURY – Officials announced this week that construction on a Wicomico County dam is nearly finished after years of rehabilitation work.

On June 4, the area near the Morris Mill Dam will reopen to traffic as a years-long project to rehabilitate the dam concludes.

“The County Executive is pleased to announce that the Morris Mill Dam Project is very near completion and will open for traffic on Thursday, June 4, 2020 at 8:00 a.m.,” a statement from County Executive Bob Culver’s office reads. “We want to thank everyone for their patience.”

Work on the Morris Mill Dam began in September of 2018 and was initially scheduled to be completed in a year. However, water found seeping through the dam shortly after construction began required crews to halt work and redesign the project.

It was that redesign and subsequent permitting process, officials say, that first delayed the completion date for the project.

“The redesign required a lengthy re-permitting process by the Maryland Department of the Environment Dam Safety Division to ensure the High Hazard Dam met current federal and state dam safety requirements,” a statement from last year reads. “When work resumed in late spring 2019 the estimated construction completion date was late fall/end of December.”

Last November, however, the county’s public works department announced the contractor had again revised its schedule to complete work in late March. And with weeks remaining until the projected completion date, officials in March said the dam project would not be completed until late May.

“The contactor cited errors in developing the original schedules, which incorrectly identified Dec. 31, 2019 and March 31, 2020 as previous completion dates,” a March statement from the executive’s office reads.

Since 2018, traffic from a portion of South Division Street has been rerouted because of the dam project, causing several county officials and residents to voice their frustrations with the ongoing construction work. The executive’s announcement this week means the road could now reopen.

The dam, originally constructed in 1946 and later updated in the 1960s, is classified as a high hazard dam based on the downstream damage – including loss of life, property damage and highway flooding – that would result if the dam were to fail.

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.