Reimagine Middle Branch Project Receives $47.7 Million in Grants

| October 13, 2022 | 0 Comments

The Reimagine Middle Branch plan, which aims to “reconnect South Baltimore to the 11-plus miles of shoreline along the Patapsco River,” recently received $47.7 million in government grants for mitigating flood risks along the waterfront. Reimagine Middle Branch is a partnership between the City of Baltimore, South Baltimore Gateway Partnership (SBGP), Parks & People Foundation, and James Corner Field Operations.

The Middle Branch Resiliency Initiative (MBRI) was established to receive the grants. MBRI is “a comprehensive implementation strategy for mitigating flood risks to public utilities, hospitals, transportation infrastructure, and communities surrounding the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River in Baltimore, Maryland. Through a coordinated network of vegetated berms, living shorelines, restored wetlands/aquatic habitats, and public space enhancements, the MBRI will protect critical infrastructure elements and community lifelines.”

The new berms and wetlands will be constructed along the Patapsco River waterfront just east of Hanover St. in Brooklyn and Cherry Hill and adjacent to the Little Hanover Street Bridge and the Medstar Harbor Hospital campus, as well as just west of BGE’s Spring Garden campus on the Ridgely’s Cove waterfront.

According to a press release, MBRI was conceived of and will be implemented by the SBGP and is made possible by support from Baltimore City, Baltimore County, the State of Maryland, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The funding breakdown is $31.9 million from a FEMA grant, $660,000 from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, $3.5 million from Maryland Department of Natural Resources, $5.1 million from Baltimore City through the Department of Public Works’ Stormwater Enterprise Fund, and $6.6 million in support from Baltimore County.

Brad Rogers, executive director of the SBGP, told construction is expected to start sometime next year and will take three to five years to complete. He said they are hoping to use mostly recycled dredge material from the Maryland Port Administration for the project.

Along with shoreline restoration, invasive plant species will removed from these sections. This includes the area just south of the Little Hanover Street Bridge where views of the waterfront are blocked by overgrown plants. New trees will also be planted.

While MBRI is part of the Reimagine Middle Branch project, it has been in planning for many years and predates the launch of Reimagine Middle Branch.

Rogers said Reimagine Middle Branch is working with James Corner Field Operations on a draft plan to show the community. Renderings were revealed in March.

Cornerstones of the plan include an expanded Middle Branch Park, new parks and improvements along Ridgely’s Cove, and a 11-mile loop trail around the Middle Branch.

The Middle Branch Fitness and Wellness Center will open this fall in Cherry Hill. SBGP is working with the One Westport development on a new park along the waterfront, and design work is currently underway for improvements to Solo Gibbs Park, Florence Cummings Park, and the Carroll Park Recreation Center.

“The Middle Branch Resiliency Initiative is a transformational project aligned with my deep commitment to the safety of our residents, the protection of their ability to live, work and play in Baltimore City, and to prioritizing clean and healthy communities. I’m honored that the City supporting this effort with $5.1 million through our Department of Public Works’ Stormwater Enterprise Fund as it aligns with the City’s Disaster Preparedness and Planning Project (DP3) and that Baltimore City is a part of the regional teamwork going into this important initiative,” said Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott in a press release.

“Leaders at all levels have a responsibility to protect our environment for this generation and the next, and we have made sustainability a top priority in county government,” said County Executive Johnny Olszewski in a press release. “Baltimore County is a proud regional partner in the Middle Branch Resiliency Initiative and will continue to support climate resiliency as it becomes increasingly vital in our everyday lives.”

“For generations, South Baltimore neighborhoods have faced environmental injustice. With this $47.7 million, we are taking huge steps to repair the mistakes of the past, while protecting our communities from climate disasters in the future. None of this would have happened without an unprecedented collaboration between multiple community organizations, government agencies, and elected officials,” added Rogers.

Image courtesy of GreenVest

Rendering courtesy of James Corner Field Operations

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