Howard County residents have spoken. The name of the tunnel-boring machine that will play an integral role in preventing rising waters in flood-prone Ellicott City is Rocky.

“Much like a sailing vessel, it is tradition and good luck to name the tunnel-boring machine as it embarks on its mission,” Howard County Executive Calvin Ball said at a groundbreaking on Monday morning.

In the spring, roughly 800 residents voted for one of the following names: Ellicott Drills, Ellicott Excavator, Granite, Granite Grinder, Hudson and Rocky.

Rocky came out on top.

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Howard County will soon begin work on the North Tunnel, which will divert flood waters away from Main Street in Ellicott City during major weather events. (Source: Howard County)

The machine will work on the Extended North Tunnel, a project that is part of the county’s Safe and Sound Plan. Launched in December 2018, the plan includes several extensive projects to help temper flash floods in Ellicott City, which was devastated by floods in 2011, 2016 and 2018.

The 18-foot-wide tunnel will divert flood waters away from Ellicott City’s West End and from higher ground areas north of Main Street during major weather events to the Patapsco River. It will also reduce the depth and velocity of floodwaters.

Slated for completion in the fall of 2027, the tunnel is expected to move 26,000 gallons of storm water per second.

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball speaks at a meet-and-greet at the Owen Brown Interfaith Center in Columbia on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

Rocky will not actually arrive in Ellicott City until late 2025. Until then, Ball said, crews will begin to prepare the site for Rocky’s arrival.

Ball was joined at Monday’s event by state and local leaders, small business owners and directors of various companies involved in the project, including Baltimore Gas and Electric Company and CSX Transportation.

“Today we are writing a new chapter in Ellicott City’s future in which it will become … the national model for flood mitigation and climate resilience,” Ball said. “I want to thank you all and let’s get to work.”