Tuesday, November 18, 2008

VDOT politics as usual

That's how I read this article about porous friction course, a porous asphalt alternative that is being tested out by VDOT. This came to my attention through this FLS article, but was actually reported last month in the Washington Post. In the article, VDOT spokesman was quoted

"Noise barriers are expensive, not to mention some people don't like the look of
them," said McGhee, referring to the walls that line highways near residential
areas. Such barriers can cost $2 million to $3 million per mile.

Now I'm angry, VDOT care's more about some snot complaining about noise after they CHOSE to build their house next to a roadway, than the benefits of using porous surfaces to prevent environmental disaster. If VDOT incurs expenses of 2-3M per mile of noise barrier, they should turn around and bill the developers. One caveat, if a new road is constructed next to existing houses, then I'm all for those barriers being part of the deal (look at what might be happening here with the Rappahannock Parkway, and a link here for a picture).

I know some readers like to see data to ensure benefits are real, so here is a link to a study on particulate conentrations in stormwater before and after the use of P.F.C. It sure would be nice if there were some incentives to using this stuff for parking lots in the area. It will also be interesting to see what VDOT's five year studies show for the improved bonding compounds and whether they can withstand wear and tear as expected.

[10pm update] A commenter also suggested this link for the Potomac River watershed stormwater runoff analysis:

I'm getting more and more concerned that actions today to 'wait and see' are risking huge future borrowing in order to fund corrections to major environmental impacts for either my generation, or my son's generation.


Larry G said...

Most sound wall issues involve new roads or substantially widening (and thus changing the noise) .. rather than folks moving in next to a road and complaining.

The new Woodrow Wilson bridge has plex-glass panels for sound walls.. is my understanding.

The 'parkway' is not likely to happen IMHO.. because the road will be expensive .. in part because of the need for sound barriers (and don't count on them being volunteered initially (to save money)).

anyhow.. you'd have to find a private company that would have enough money to build the road - probably 100 to 200 million and then collect a high enough toll on enough folks coming down Route 3 and headed for I-95.. to make it "work" fiscally.

on the stormwater...

I read recently that tire "crumbs" as a media work much better as a substrate for pervious paving (which tends to clog up on other substrate media materials).

The Potomac Conservancy has stated, that stormwater is the 600 lb gorrila in River and Bay water quality...

Not farming. Not drain fields. Not sewage treatment. But Storm Water.

Hot, Fast and Dirty


It's likely the Rappahannock River is no better off.

Bryan said...


Thanks for the link. You're right on the mark, it was the potomac studies and bay quality reports that I was thinking of when I wrote this. I'm going to update the main story with your link.

kcw said...

There is still a lot of testing going on using tire 'crumbs' but testing indicates it is better.
(ie. http://www.springerlink.com/content/b517687474687v12/)

It will take a while to formulate equations for the engineering of mixes and change peoples minds to use something new (ie. it will happen in Europe first).

Lary g: I think your missing the mark when it comes to categorizing runoff pollution. Yes the culprit is stormwater but overall the culprit is stormwater pickup of chemical contaminants in the soil and on the ground. This does include farming.

If the rain simply fell and rolled into the river...no problem. It is the contaminants it picks up and moves as the water makes its way to the river that is the problem. You can't stop the rain from falling but you can control where it goes and what it flows over.

Stormwater is the route cause as in it is the enabler. It enables the ground contamination to make its way to the river.

Anybody want to pay for Stormwater Treatment Plants? No? Then fix the ground contaminates.

Larry G said...

stormwater utilities and sequester and treatment are realties and we'll see more of it.

Oh .. I totally agree... with the contaminates issues...

but you need to look at what kind of impervious surfaces.... is it parking lots or pastures...

what is on the surface... is it cow poop and fertilizer or is it pet poop, anti-freeze, motor-oil, etc...

farms have been

Larry G said...

farms have been around for hundreds of years.. pastures.. cow poop and all.. and the Chesapeake Bay was chock full of oysters and crabs.

Even in the 1960's when urban sewage was a problem.. the rivers and the Bay were relatively healthy...

It's when we started clearing vast amounts of land.. and putting asphalt and concrete on them that we started seeing serious degradation.

I don't have a dog in the "where does it come from" other than opinion but I don't think we can make intelligent decisions unless we do adequate water quality testing -both above and below urban areas like Fredericksburg to get the facts - that we need.

My guess is that asphalt/concrete stormwater is much more nasty than pastureland...but like I said.. we need good data... so opinion is replaced by facts.

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