SHA seeks pub­lic’s info on Port De­posit’s past

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By JANE BELLMYER jbellmyer@ce­cil­

PORT DE­POSIT — Of­fi­cials with the Mary­land State High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion will host a com­mu­nity meet­ing March 6 to hear from long­time town res­i­dents, or those with a knowl­edge of town his­tory, to remap Main Street be­fore a $4.5 mil­lion project can re­sume.

That meet­ing will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at town hall, lo­cated at 64 S. Main St.

Robert Rager, SHA dis­trict com­mu­nity li­ai­son, said the agency needs a bet­ter idea of what types of busi­nesses or ac­tiv­i­ties lined Main Street in Port De­posit’s past to avoid sur­prises like the as­bestos pipe found un­der North Main Street.

“Not just com­pa­nies, we’re talk­ing about peo­ple’s back­yards,” Rager said. “For ex­am­ple, was there a ve­hi­cle re­pair shop or a foundry?”

Rager said the maps with which they were work­ing to plan the stormwa­ter me­di­a­tion project are in­ac­cu­rate.

“A good ex­am­ple of that is when we were work­ing on the project last year near the bas­ket­ball courts and came across as­bestos pipe,” he said. “It didn’t show up on any plans and we don’t know if there’s more (or) where it goes.”

That 10-inch pipe wasn’t wrapped or lined with as­bestos, it was made of the stuff, Rager said.

“They hit a chunk of it and for­tu­nately they knew right away what it was,” he said of the crew from Pes- soa Con­struc­tion. A piece was re­moved for test­ing and the hole filled. Test­ing con­firmed it was as­bestos, a sus­pected car­cino­gen.

SHA is spend­ing $ 4.5 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, but was ceased last fall af­ter it be­came ap­par­ent that the project needed to be re­designed.

Jim Ports, deputy Mary­land Trans­porta­tion sec­re­tary, told lo­cal leaders in Oc­to­ber about the myr­iad of is­sues in­clud­ing the dis­cov­er­ies of as­bestos, un­known util­i­ties, solid gran­ite boulders and con­flicts with the town sewer sys­tem.

So Rager said the SHA is reach­ing out to those who have lived in town for decades, or may have rec­ol­lec­tions of what was hap­pen­ing in the water­front town long ago.

“We want to lis­ten to what peo­ple have to say, know what they know,” Rager said. “Help­ing us is go­ing to help you.”

Even if those in the know can’t make the meet­ing, Rager said he still wants their as­sis­tance.

“Any­one who can’t make it is wel­come to con­tact me di­rectly and we can meet with them in­di­vid­u­ally,” Rager said. Call 443-463-3768 or email rrager@sha.state.

There’s no word yet on when the project would re­sume.

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