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 1 and 2.
Our unique approach...
- Combine traditional environmental engineering with ecology to develop a comprehensive
knowledge of runoff characteristics and impacts on natural systems.
- Establish baseline ecosystem quality characteristics.
- Water quality.
- Fish density and diversity.
- Benthic macroinvertebrates (bottom-feeding bugs).
- Monitor during and after construction.
- Develop and recommend best management practices for current and future construction projects.
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!
- Combine treatment of runoff waters with watershed-scale remediation.
- Due to geochemical characteristics of waters and historical land use patterns, many waters in the vicinity of new highway construction are impaired.
- We are developing innovative plans to use highways to collect and treat watershed waters in addition to runoff waters.
- Focus on passive treatment processes that fit the surroundings, which leads to novel approaches to watershed-scale remediation.
Bringing undergraduate teaching together with research - the best of both worlds!
- Funded research is planned with specific tasks that undergraduate students can contribute to.
- When undergraduates work along side faculty and graduate students, undergraduates
- Exposure to scientific and applied research
- An avenue for potential transition to graduate school
- Valuable practical skills which increase marketability
- Graduate students develop leadership and mentoring skills.
- Faculty and the program grow stronger by developing well-rounded, experienced students!