Army Corps releases for public review draft plan to reduce coastal flood risk in Baltimore

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Published July 6, 2022

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Baltimore District, along with the non-federal sponsor, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), have published for public review and comment a draft report and Environmental Assessment (EA) to determine whether the implementation of coastal storm risk management (CSRM) measures in Baltimore would reduce coastal flood risk to vulnerable populations, critical transportation infrastructure, and historic and cultural resources, while considering future climate and sea level change scenarios.

The tentatively selected plan incorporates floodwalls and closure structures at the Interstate (I)-95 and I-895 tunnels, as well as at the Fort McHenry and Harbor Tunnels ventilation buildings. The plan also proposes nonstructural floodproofing measures at coastal properties in the historic neighborhoods of Canton, Fells Point, Inner Harbor, Riverside and Locust Point. Examples of floodproofing measures include door and window barriers, raising mechanical systems, and installation of flood resistant materials. Participation in nonstructural floodproofing is voluntary. The net annual benefits of this plan are estimated at $4.42 million.

USACE will consider all comments received during the 30-day comment period ending Aug. 5, 2022, in preparation of the Final Feasibility Report and EA. USACE and MDOT will host at least one public meeting throughout the public comment period so the public can learn more about the proposed plan, ask questions and provide feedback. Public meeting details and additional information will be posted on the USACE project website as they become available.

The Baltimore metro region is highly susceptible to flooding, and future storms (including tropical storms, hurricanes, and nor’easters) may result in increased flood risk. Coastal storms have produced extensive property damage and loss of life resulting from storm surge and flooding in the recent past, particularly from Hurricane Isabel in 2003, which resulted in costs of $4.8 million to the City of Baltimore, up to $252 million in total damages in Southern Baltimore County, and one fatality. In Baltimore City, alone, annualized damages due to coastal flooding are estimated at $2.2 million.

For the proposed plan to lead to construction, it would need a signed USACE Chief’s report and additional Congressional authorization and funding. Non-federal sponsors would also need to be identified and solidified. During the Pre-Construction Engineering and Design and construction phases, the project would be cost shared 65 percent federal and 35 percent non-federal.

The draft report, accompanying EA and additional information about the public meeting can be found on the study’s webpage:


Baltimore District celebrates 175 years of Service to our Nation in 2022

Since the Nation’s fight for independence, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has played a vital role in developing our Nation. The Baltimore District has a long and storied history that extends as far back as the early 1800s when USACE constructed Fort McHenry, successfully shielding Baltimore against British attacks in the War of 1812. And when the threat of coastal attack diminished in the 1820s, Baltimore District turned its attention to developing roadways, railways, canals, and more, marking the beginning of the District’s Civil Works mission. Baltimore District delivers vital engineering solutions in collaboration with its partners to serve and strengthen the Nation, energize the economy, and reduce disaster risks. Baltimore District has an extensive flood risk management program, inspecting nearly 150 miles of levee systems and operating 16 dams, translating to the prevention of more than $16 billion of flood damages to date. The district maintains 290 miles of federal channels, including dredging the Baltimore Harbor, which material is beneficial mainly for restoration missions, such as the expansion of Poplar Island in the Chesapeake Bay. The district has vast ecosystem restoration missions that include restoring native oyster populations in the Bay. Baltimore District is the only district to operate a public utility — the Washington Aqueduct — that produces an average of 135 million gallons of drinking water per day at two treatment plants for approximately one million citizens living, working, or visiting the National Capital Region. The district also cleans up formerly used defense sites, decommissions and deactivates former nuclear power plants, and performs cleanup of low-level radioactive waste from the Nation’s early atomic weapons program. Baltimore District executes a robust military construction program and provides real estate services. These civil and military missions and diverse engineering services support communities and warfighters while addressing the ever-growing list of emerging national security requirements and ultimately protecting the Nation.

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Cynthia Mitchell

Release no. 22-012