SNOW HILL – Flooding on Route 12 during a recent storm prompted county officials to ask the state for drainage improvements.
The Worcester County Commissioners voted unanimously last week to send a letter to Maryland Secretary of Transportation Paul Wiedefeld asking for drainage improvements north of the Route 12 bridge in Snow Hill.
“This is a request we have in our Consolidated Transportation Plan we submit each year but no remedy is in sight and we would like to express the importance of fixing this for our citizens, our employees and everyone else impacted by this evacuation route being inundated,” said Weston Young, the county’s chief administrative officer.
Motorists in Snow Hill were advised to use alternate routes two weeks ago as Route 12 was under water for about three days following a Tuesday storm.
Commissioner Chip Bertino said a citizen had reached out to county government in hopes officials could share concerns with the Maryland Department of Transportation.
The commissioners voted unanimously during last week’s meeting to send a letter to the state asking for expedited drainage improvements.
“Our gravest concerns surround the impacts roadway flooding may have on public safety,” the letter reads. “Time is of the essence when emergencies arise. Lives could be jeopardized if detours impede the public from evacuating in a crisis or if emergency personnel are delayed from providing critically needed assistance or accessing area hospitals during emergencies.”
According to the letter, Route 12 is a designated evacuation even though it floods during even moderate rain events.
While that state’s “Turn Around Don’t Drown” campaign highlights the dangers of floodwater, the closest alternate route for motorists traveling on Route 12 nearly doubles travel time.
The added travel time is exacerbated by the fact that motorists typically don’t know the portion of roadway near the bridge is impassable until they get there.
“Because there is no reliable information system available, often commuters are unaware that MD Rt. 12 is impassable until the floodwaters are inches from their bumpers, leaving them grappling with weather to backtrack to an alternative route or to take the unwise risk of forging ahead into unknown depths, where smaller trucks and cars often become disabled,” the letter reads.
County officials believe the road needs to be raised with drainage structures added in order to stay passable during storm events.