HAGERSTOWN —After being closed for more than two months, the West Memorial Boulevard railroad underpass is expected to be open to traffic again this week, a city official said Friday.
Hagerstown Director of Public Works Eric Deike said the underpass, which has been closed between Maryland Avenue and South Potomac Street as staff investigated and worked to fix a stormwater drainage issue, is expected to reopen by Friday.
“Unless something unforeseen comes up, I am very confident” it will be open by then, Deike wrote in an email.
For years, the underpass experienced severe flooding after heavy rainfalls.
The issue came to a head in late May when floodwaters failed to recede after a storm, prompting city officials to search for the root of the problem.
It was discovered that a nearly 100-year-old stormwater runoff pipeline, located below an existing sewer line, was the culprit, Deike said recently.
With help from a local contractor, city staff members have been working for weeks to clear the underdrain and to install manholes at intervals along the line to allow access to keep the problem from returning.
The overall project costs are estimated to be in the $90,000 to $100,000 range, Deike said, including about $25,000 to be paid to C.W. Hetzer Inc., a local excavator and contractor, for work on the project.
“(C.W. Hetzer was) able to supply an excavating machine that would reach the depth of excavation,” Deike wrote. “They also provided large trench boxes required for this project.”
Other costs included $30,000 for work done by the city’s sewer department, as well as $25,000 worth of work done by the Public Works Department, $21,000 for materials and $9,000 for pump rentals, according to a progress report to the mayor and city council.
Deike said it was unknown what the project would end up costing the city in the end, especially since city staff were “flying somewhat blind” as they began to tackle the issue.
“We did not know if the pipe collapsed or was simply clogged,” he wrote. “We had hoped to rectify the situation from the point at the underpass. When that failed, the project moved east to access the pipe. That location also failed to clear the pipe, and the project expanded.”
Most of the costs might be paid through bond financing, which will be part of the General Fund function of the Public Works Department, according to the progress report. Public Works Department labor and equipment would not be included in the bond financing.
Since getting to the root of the problem, Deike said the rest of the project has gone smoothly.
When asked by email if he was relieved the process might finally be coming to an end, Deike simply wrote: “Yes.”