Ecosystem Impacts of Roadway Construction, Operation and Maintenance

A representative research project: ecosystem impacts of roadway construction, operation, and maintenance.

The unique rural, geochemical, and topographical characteristics of West Virginia result in many technical challenges related to roadway construction and environmental impacts (e.g., acid loading, lack of suitable substrate for revegetation, high dissolved metal concentrations, etc.); visual examples are presented in Figures 1and 2.

  • terraced roadway
    Figure 1. Typical terraced roadway "cut" with evidence of iron "staining".
  • acid impacted retention pond
    Figure 2. Typical acid impacted retention pond/quasi-wetland naturally developed on "reclaimed" mine refuge located adjacent to proposed roadway construction project.
  • Our unique approach...

  • James Cunningham and Brad Messenger
    Figure 3. Graduate students James Cunningham (left) and Brad Messenger (right) calibrating instruments in the field prior to collecting and analyzing water samples
  • Jaime Sayre
    Figure 4. Jaime Sayre, WVU BSCE '99, WVU MSCE 2001, collecting water samples from Laurel Run, the subject of her MS thesis research.
  • As a result, the Group is able to develop watershed-scale plans for the remediation of acidic drainage, a step which goes well beyond what is typical!

  • acid drainage impacted stream
    Figure 5. WVU-CEE researchers surveying acid drainage impacted stream adjacent to proposed roadway construction.
  • Mark Grant
    Figure 6. Mark Grant, WVU MSCE 2000, an Associate Engineering Scientist in the Group collecting water samples from the outlet of an impoundment.
  • Bringing undergraduate teaching together with research - the best of both worlds!

    Jeff Ross and Andy Tuel
    Figure 7. Undergraduate students Jeff Ross (left, WVU MSCE 2000) and Andy Tuel (right, WVU MSCE 2000) participating in water quality monitoring along the Laurel Run study site.