Heavy rains cause "complete washout" of Route 198 Bridge

Laurel Leader

For the third weekend in a row, the State Highway Administration has responded to a complete washout of bridge approaches--the section where the roadway meets the bridge--across Maryland.

This week was Laurel. The east end of the Maryland 198 bridge, located in Anne Arundel County, was “completely washed out” Monday morning, according to Charlie Gischlar, spokesman for the highway administration.

Heavy rainfall from Sunday led to part of the Route 198 bridge, located between Bald Eagle Drive and Airfield Road, to be damaged by the Little Patuxent River, which swelled, causing an immense amount of debris, including trees, to be picked up by the river.

“The trees were getting stuck and lodged in the center section of the bridge, which forced the water [to go] off to the east end and undermine the bridge approach,” Gischlar said, who was at the scene Monday morning.

The Anne Arundel County Police Department dispatched officersto the bridge in the morning to close off the road, said Marc Limansky, police spokesman.

Laurel police spokeswoman Audrey Barnes said that while the area is identified with a Laurel address, it is “outside of the city limits,” and so, the city police department was not involved with the bridge aftermath.

The flooding in Laurel comes eight days after Ellicott City faced a horrific flood, the second one in just two years.

Besides the bridge, Laurel did not suffer any additional outstanding damage.

“There have been a few roadways closed but nothing really severe,” Limansky said. “Certainly nothing like Ellicott City.”

Laurel Mayor Craig Moe advised residents and business owners to prepare for possible flooding in a news release Sunday night. Some areas in Laurel were already experiencing power outages and flooding on Sunday, according to the city’s communication office.

The other bridge approaches that the highway administration responded to were in Jefferson, Frederick County and Maryland 144 in Ellicott City, closer to Baltimore County, Gischlar said.

The Route 198 Bridge should be repaired and opened within a week or less, Gischlar said in a statement

“Much of the debris has already been removed and the water level is much lower than it was this morning,” Gischlar wrote. “… Crews will be working around the clock to rebuild the east approach to the bridge.”

At this point it’s too dangerous to send divers in, but when it becomes possible, the divers will go into the river and examine the supports for the bridge, to ensure they are still structurally safe, Gischlar said Monday.

As far as building to prevent washouts, nature still runs its own uncharted course.

“You can build something but that force of water has to go somewhere … that’s where the problems are,” Gischlar said.



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