House approves funds to fight Baltimore floods

July 26, 1996|By Frank Langfitt | Frank Langfitt,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON -- The House approved legislation yesterday that would lay the groundwork for a $3.9 million flood control project to protect businesses along the Gwynns Falls in South Baltimore.

The project calls for construction of a 400-foot-long levee averaging 18 feet in height and two flood control gates for an existing levee.

"The Gwynns Falls is a major waterway flowing through highly developed urban areas in and around Baltimore City," said Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, a Baltimore Democrat in whose district the project would be built. "I am pleased that this project can proceed in a timely manner to protect this growing industrial area from flooding."

Specifically, the House approved $100,000 yesterday for the project as part of the energy and water appropriations bill. The vote was 391-23.

The money would help the Army Corps of Engineers complete specifications for the project contract and begin to coordinate the relocation of telephone and rail lines in the area, said Joe Wolfe, a study manager with the corps. Baltimore is providing $1.2 million in matching funds for the project.

Although President Clinton has threatened to veto the entire bill for unrelated reasons and the Senate has not taken up the measure, the project money does not appear to be controversial and is likely to receive full congressional approval later this year, according to a key GOP Senate Appropriations Committee staff member.

The project would be just southwest of the intersection of Russell Street and Interstate 95 near the mouth of the Gwynns Falls, which empties into the Patapsco River's Middle Branch.

The protected area lies north of I-95, around the Bresco incinerator, and includes manufacturing companies and other businesses. Much of it is within Baltimore's Empowerment Zone, which has been targeted for development.

According to a study by the corps, the area has flooded at least six times since 1955. In 1984, a large rainstorm caused $2.7 million in damage.

Pub Date: 7/26/96

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