BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore approved funding for the installation of “constructed wetlands” along the Middle Branch, restoring the shoreline of parts of the Patapsco River and protecting South Baltimore neighborhoods from flooding, Mayor Brandon Scott said Friday.

The project is part of the larger Reimagine Middle Branch initiative, which looks to activate the waterfront with parks, an east-west trail and other amenities.

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“Early maps of the Middle Branch… show a thick, natural, and resilient shoreline edge,” a report on the project says. “Through time, this edge has been reshaped and hardened by industry and infrastructure, resulting in a shoreline today that is thin, fragmented, and impacted by trash, highways, vacancy, and erosion.”

On Wednesday, the Board of Estimates approved an allocation of $5.1 million from the Department of Public Works budget toward the construction of wetlands. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is providing an additional $3.5 million through a grant.

“Today’s funding announcement is a win in support of the neighbors and communities in South Baltimore, which these new wetlands will protect,” said Scott. “As a port city, we must proactively support and complete these types of projects to improve Baltimore’s climate resiliency.”

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Wetlands and nature-based resiliency features will be installed on a city-owned parcel of waterfront land located near S. Hanover Street and Frankfurst Avenue in the Brooklyn neighborhood.

The South Baltimore Gateway Partnership is administering the funds for the installation.

“This site floods regularly, keeping emergency vehicles from reaching Harbor Hospital quickly,” said South Baltimore Gateway Partnership Executive Director Brad Rogers. “We need to create these wetland protective measures to make sure that South Baltimore communities and their resources are protected for the future, long-term.”

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The wetlands project is a finalist for a $32 million federal grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program, Scott said.

Brandon Weigel