Erosion and Sediment Control
Muddy 98 - A Construction Stormwater Success Story
A quick internet search for “Muddy 98” reveals a lingering history of stormwater-associated pain and misery for the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT). Over a decade ago, ALDOT found itself being the owner of an 8-mile long highway construction project that was causing the drinking water supply of over a quarter of a million people to look like a mud puddle. After several lawsuit and regulatory enforcement action settlements and many millions of dollars spent on restoration and remediation, funding for the corridor dried up.
While the partially completed work on this project may have gone dark for a decade, the influence of the lessons learned were felt across the Nation during those preceding years.
ALDOT’s construction stormwater program was forever changed. Roadway design policy was altered in a number of ways, including requirements for flattening slopes and for consideration of construction stormwater management at the earliest stages of planning. Internal and external communications also improved. A fundamental approach to managing construction stormwater was developed with managing communication becoming THE best management practice, ahead of managing work, managing water, managing erosion, then managing sediment.
ALDOT’s construction stormwater management research funding and focus also become more robust. The Auburn University Erosion and Sediment Control Test Facility (AU-ESCTF) and its work was largely born out of ALDOT’s troubles on US 98. The findings of research and testing at AU-ESCTF has informed and influenced stormwater management innovation across the United States.
Several state DOT’s and other entities have adopted the ALDOT-developed approach to managing construction stormwater and the many improvements in practice effectiveness discovered at Auburn University.
In 2016, Alabama settled a $1 billion lawsuit with BP oil after a massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This settlement has provided a funding source for completing the US 98 corridor in west Mobile County. The corridor will ultimately connect US 98 at the Mississippi state line with Interstate 65 north of the City of Mobile, Alabama.
Over sixteen miles of the new route stretch across the Big Creek Lake watershed and several pristine blackwater streams. This includes the eight miles of partially completed roadway that were constructed in 2006-2008. The remaining work consists of grading, drainage, and bridge work will traverse forested lands with old live oaks and roling pastured farmland.
More than $50 million in contracts have been awarded on the corridor since the fall of 2017. To ensure that past commitments are honored and current regulatory and social expectations for the project are met, ALDOT created an Environmental Quality Assurance (EQA) Team consisting of project and stormwater management experts, legal and community outreach professionals - all with experience on the previously troubled project. Presenter Barry Fagan currently serves on the EQA Team.
Due to the project’s past and to the current expectations of the community and regulators, projects have been designed with some of the most innovative practices available in ALDOT’s stormwater management toolbox.
In this presentation, Barry Fagan, PE/PLS, ENV SP, CPESC, CPMSM, CESSWI, will tell the story of Muddy 98. He will highlight critical missteps and surprising solutions of the past. He will also connect that troubled past with a bright and thus far successful present and future for the much-need corridor. It is his goal that the painful learning associated with this project will continue to advance the state of construction stormwater management and help stormwater professionals to become more effective in their work.