Maryland State Highway Administration – OED
- Environmental Assessment and Mitigation
- Fish Passage Restoration
- NEPA Documentation
- Interagency Coordination
- Construction Inspection
CRI provided solutions and support for a wide range of natural resources management requirements for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project. This project includes a replacement bridge on I95/I495 between the State of Maryland and the Commonwealth of Virginia and 4 new interchanges. This sizable project utilized CRI’s expertise in a number of disciplines including CRI’s skill in coordinating multiple regulatory agencies.
CRI assisted in extensive NEPA documentation including preparing a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) and a Secondary and Cumulative Effects Analysis (SCEA). The FSEIS document included identifying existing terrestrial and aquatic resources, rare, threatened, and endangered (RTE) species within the project area, and assessing potential project-related impacts to these resources. The SCEA document included researching existing and historical information regarding terrestrial and aquatic resources and RTE species as well as an assessment of potential secondary and cumulative effects to these resources from project alternatives. CRI also provided technical expertise in the preparation of the Joint Permit Application and conducted a Forest Stand Delineation and Forest Interior Dwelling Bird Survey at Jones Point Park.
Aquatic Resources Mitigation
CRI was responsible for developing an Aquatic Resources Mitigation Plan for impacts caused by the replacement of the Bridge. Impacts associated with the project included disturbance to approximately 25 acres of tidal and nontidal wetlands, submerged aquatic vegetation, and other waters of the United States. CRI completed mitigation site characterization and interagency field reviews for more than 20 potential mitigation sites, completed GPS surveys of environmental features, developed conceptual site plans, and provided preliminary cost estimates for construction. This work included installing automated groundwater monitoring wells and tidal gauges to determine hydrologic characteristics of each site. CRI coordinated with federal, state, and local regulatory and resource agencies to obtain consensus on the mitigation plan, which included in-kind and out-of-kind compensation for impacts. The plan included elements such as removing stream blockages to improve anadromous fish habitat in the Potomac and Anacostia River watersheds, stabilizing shoreline along the Potomac River, restoring wetlands along the Anacostia River, and creating tidal and nontidal wetlands.
Biological Assessment and Habitat
CRI prepared a Biological Assessment for the Bald Eagle during the early design phase of the project to satisfy Section 7 requirements. CRI conducted a six-month field investigation of the Bald Eagle along the Potomac River adjacent to the bridge site to determine potential impacts of bridge construction on the nesting, foraging, and roosting activities of a resident nesting pair and wintering eagles. CRI analyzed the data, evaluated the potential effects on the bald eagle, and developed mitigation measures for the final Biological Assessment report. During bridge construction, CRI assisted in the preparation of a revised supplement to the original Biological Assessment report to consider changes in the status of the resident bald eagle pair.
CRI led the technical review to restore fish passage as part of the mitigation program with special emphasis on applying sound geomorphologic evaluation and natural channel design. The completed design of the removal or remediation of twenty-three fish blockages will allow anadromous fish access to their historic spawning grounds. The proposed use of natural design features and instream structures presents a relatively new approach to fish passage compared to the use of traditional fish ladders. Consequently, CRI has conducted significant coordination with the permitting and commenting agencies, as well as landowners. CRI managed the pre-, during and post-construction monitoring of the fish passage mitigation sites.
Anadromous Fish Sampling
CRI staff assisted the Washington Metropolitan Council of Government and the Interstate Commission for the Potomac River Basin with sampling fish species in the Northwest Branch, Anacostia River, Indian Creek, Paint Branch, and Sligo Creek to provide baseline data for fish passage improvements. Sampling was done using electroshock techniques to obtain relative numbers of anadromous fish within the various reaches. Migratory fish were collected, counted, measured for length and weight, sexed by evidence of row or milt, and notes were taken on their general condition, dorsal fins were clipped to identify where they were captured, and then they were released.
Water Quality Monitoring
CRI conducted the pre, during and post-construction monitoring for the fish passage projects on Northwest Branch, Sligo Creek, Little Paint Branch, Indian Creek and Rock Creek. Tasks included collecting, identifying and analyzing benthic macroinvertebrate communities, collecting basic water quality data, performing aquatic habitat assessments, stream channel cross-sections, pool depth surveys, pebble counts, and photo-documentation at thirty-five stations before, during and after construction of the fish passages. CRI also conducted fish surveys at seven of the stations before and after construction to document the existing residential fish community and any changes brought on by the project. Surveys were conducted in accordance with SHA’s Stream Monitoring Protocol, which is based largely on MBSS procedures for evaluation and analysis of macroinvertebrates, fish and habitat. Fish were identified to species using taxonomic keys in the field. Macroinvertebrates were identified in CRI’s in-house lab to genus level. Habitat assessments were performed using a modified rapid bioassessment protocol. Water quality parameters collected included: temperature, pH, conductivity, DO, and turbidity using handheld meters. A report of findings was prepared on a yearly basis, with a final report at the end of the study. Reports summarized and analyzed data, with an emphasis on determining what impact, if any, the project has had on water quality and biological community of stream segments surrounding the constructed fish passages.
CRI provided Environmental Inspection for the new bridge construction as well as four new interchanges. Duties include permit review of impacts to tidal and nontidal wetlands and ensuring that all construction activities are in compliance with the permit; directing repair and maintenance of erosion control devices including silt fences, clear water ditches, clear water berms, and turbidity curtains; recommending specifications for temporary seeding and mulching of erodible areas; preparing daily erosion and sediment control reports; and performing water quality testing including pH, temperature, DO, and turbidity at the construction sites.
In addition, CRI staff acted as the Senior Designated Specialist and oversaw the construction and inspected all of the Maryland environmental mitigation projects totaling over $7.5 million. The staff also provided fish relocation services as each section of the stream was dewatered. Projects included: streambank stabilization, wetland creation, fish passage restoration, water quality retrofits, tidal marsh creation, and riparian buffer mitigation.