The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) revealed the 2015 Environmental Excellence Award recipients, and two McCormick Taylor projects were chosen to receive honors. The Potters Mills Gap (PMG) Transportation Project was awarded for Excellence in Environmental Streamlining and the PB-85 Stream, Floodplain and Wetland Restoration for Excellence in Wetlands, Watersheds and Water Quality.
About the Projects
Potters Mills Gap: Excellence in Environmental Streamlining
The PMG Transportation Project a large-scale safety and operational improvement effort along 3.75 miles of Route 322 in Potter Township, Centre County, Pennsylvania. Beginning west of the Route 322 and Route 144 intersection and extending east to the Centre County/Mifflin County line, the project falls in an area known as “Potters Mills Gap,” formed by the Triester and Kohler Mountains. The area exhibits a crash history in excess of the statewide average, in addition to heavy motorist delays. Now a priority project under Pennsylvania’s Act 89, improvements consist of multiple roadway and structure upgrades – including the installation of two full interchanges – to alleviate safety, congestion and access concerns, while enhancing and preserving environmental and historic resources.
The project has a $105 million construction cost and presented complex environmental issues. McCormick Taylor and PennDOT utilized a number of innovative approaches to collaborate with environmental agencies and the public, including online collaboration tools, context sensitive design features and creative mitigation strategies to produce concise, high-quality environmental documents. By applying these measures, project stakeholders were able to anticipate and address environmental issues, avoiding delays and reducing project costs along the way. The issuance of a FONSI in July 2014 has allowed this important project to move forward as planned.
On the success of Potters Mills Gap, PennDOT District 2-0’s Design Services Engineer Steven Fantechi said, “PennDOT’s values of safety, modernization, customer service and communication were met with this project. We recognize the hard work of the project team and also the drive and cooperation that lead the team to the innovative way to compress the schedule, coordinate effectively with environmental agencies and meet the goals of the project.”
To successfully advance the project, McCormick Taylor utilized our team’s extensive permitting and NEPA regulatory review and documentation experience. Since 2003, McCormick Taylor has developed and delivered nationwide training on a variety of environmental and regulatory subjects to local, state and federal agencies on behalf of the National Highway Institute—the training arm of FHWA.
Route 322 travels through two state forests and DCNR’s Penn Nursery. The project was designed to minimize impacts to the multiple resources present in the area. The bifurcated design and provisions for wildlife and recreation corridors were part of the context sensitive design used throughout the project area. The proposed roadway held the northern edge of the existing Route 322 pavement to avoid encroachment into Potter Run and to minimize impacts to wetlands.
PB-85: Excellence in Wetlands, Watersheds, and Water Quality
To mitigate for impacts anticipated from the construction of the Intercounty Connector (ICC) in Maryland, the Maryland State Highway Administration identified restoration opportunities along portions of the Paint Branch and Little Paint Branch waterways within Prince George’s County, Maryland. Referred to as PB-85, the project was included as part of the compensatory mitigation and environmental stewardship package for the ICC. In 2010, McCormick Taylor was selected to provide design and construction oversight. The project incorporated stream, floodplain, and wetland restoration efforts along Paint Branch extending from MD 193 (University Boulevard) upstream approximately 4,180 feet. In addition, the project included portions of Little Paint Branch from the confluence with Paint Branch upstream approximately 3,116 feet.
PB-85 used innovative techniques to improve ecological and geomorphic conditions not only at the site but for miles of channel downstream in a cost-effective way. By returning 12 acres of agricultural fields to a natural wetland system, the project improved floodplain reconnection, reduced channel boundary erosion, enhanced and reforested over ten acres of land along the Paint Branch and Little Paint Branch tributaries, and improved habitats for fish and other aquatic species. Approximately 425 tons of suspended sediment will be removed from Paint and Little Paint Branch collectively per year, with a sustainable design life of over 25 years.
Floodplain wetland cell of Little Paint Branch three months after construction.