As­bestos found un­der Port De­posit’s Main Street

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By JANE BELLMYER jbellmyer@ce­cil­whig.com

PORT DE­POSIT — The Mary­land State High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion is ex­am­in­ing next steps af­ter the re­cent dis­cov­ery that there is as­bestos pipe un­der­ground along North Main Street.

Robert Rager, SHA spokesman, said Wed­nes­day that the pipe was dis­cov­ered dur­ing dig­ging op­er­a­tions a few weeks ago to in­stall a new stormwa­ter net­work as part of an ef­fort to con­trol flood­ing in Port De­posit dur­ing high rain­fall events.

“We were right at the point to make the con­nec­tion to get the out­fall in place,” Rager said.

Rager said the crew from Pes­soa Con­struc­tion knew right away what they found when they dis­cov­ered the pipe about 300 feet from the bas­ket­ball courts.

“Plas­tic, iron, cop­per and PVC pipe is all eas­ily rec­og­niz­able,” Rager said.

This pipe, how­ever, looked like none of that, so a sam­ple was tested and the re­sult came back pos­i­tive for as­bestos.

“The pipe is empty,” Rager noted. “We don’t think it is serv­ing any­thing.”

At this point, they have no way of know­ing why the pipe was there, or how much of it is un­der North Main Street.

SHA is spend­ing $2.3 mil­lion to re­di­rect stormwa­ter and keep what runs out of town from flow­ing back. A se­ries of out­falls, or check valves, are to be set in place along the Susque­hanna River and con­nected to the stormwa­ter sys­tem. Work be­gan in March.

The prepa­ra­tion work in­cluded a visit from Miss Util­ity, a util­ity lo­ca­tion ser­vice, but even that equip­ment can’t an­tic­i­pate what could be found when dig­ging be­gins un­der the streets, Rager said.

“We’re find­ing things ev­ery time we put a shovel in the ground,” Rager said of SHA’s many projects in Ce­cil County and across Mary­land. “The util­ity is­sues un­der that road­way are just un­be­liev­able.”

When Ris­ing Sun went through a streetscape pro­ject more than a decade ago, there were nu­mer­ous times when the pro­ject would come to a halt when an­other un­der­ground fuel stor­age tank was lo­cated. Clint Bow­ers, who was the com­mis­sioner over­see­ing the pro­ject at the time, ex­pressed frus­tra­tion and won­dered if Ris­ing Sun had been built on a tank farm.

Rager said the Port De­posit pro­ject will re­sume in Oc­to­ber when the risk of en­dan­ger­ing the sub­merged aquatic veg­e­ta­tion in the Susque­hanna River ends.

“We still have to run our pipe through there,” he said of the area where the pipe now lies un­der packed earth. “It’s in the way of what we need to do.”

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