High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes
I-495 Capital Beltway Expansion Project
Upstream from Lake Accotink
Documentation of Sediment Control Failures
August 23, 2009, Report

August 23, 2009

And it continues. Here are pictures from August 23, 2009, showing HOT Lanes construction sediment control failures along Accotink Creek and its Coons Branch tributary: 082309 Photos - Sediment contol failures continue

More sediment failure documentation, from a site visit on Aug 23rd. Each time I visit these sites, I am surprised and disappointed at the failures that I find. Why is it that I as an amateur am apparently capable of finding sediment control failures and issues that Fluor and VDOT's extensive monitoring procedures by experts fail to detect? Why is it that despite repeated assurances that Fluor and VDOT take this issue seriously, and are fully competent and capable of handling construction projects of this scale, I continue to find these failures? If I am misinterpreting the situation, please correct me, so I won't keep reporting these problems.

I would appreciate a detailed explanation of
-the reasons for the failures documented in this album
-the actions taken to repair the failures
-a reevaluation of monitoring procedures for sites that have clearly been neglected.

I've asked for clarifications, explanations and followups before, but have never received much substantive response. I have no idea whether my pictures and comments from previous reports have been seriously evaluated, and I still have a lot of unanswered questions about the controls and procedures in place.

There appears to have been a profound misinterpretation of the problems I reported previously at Coons Branch - attributing the sediment release there to rain is obviously incorrect, given the precipitation records. I recommend the installation of a rain gauge, in order to correctly track local precipitation. That would allow for correct identification of significant rain events.

I remain profoundly concerned as to whether the responsible parties are capable of taking this issue seriously. Despite some reassuring developments and improved E&S structures, there are a number of obvious failures documented here. I believe these are primarily due to poor design, and inadequate monitoring.

The most egregious failure documented here is of a site that has been failing for months - I have reported sediment flows at the bridge adjacent to Americana Park repeatedly, going back to last year - obvious sediment flows after each rain. Workers scraped the sediment off the trail, in preparation for a media event in July, so it's clear that VDOT/Fluor were aware of this issue. On Sunday I traced the sediment back to a stormwater pond that is seriously dysfunctional, despite a recent installation of gravel check dams. There is a 3 foot deep eroded gully, that has clearly not been attended to for a long time. The E&S controls protecting the culvert are not functional, and given the accumulation of sediment, have also been seriously neglected. Cosmetic repairs that create the illusion of a functional stormwater pond from a distance are not adequate, and given that this site has released sediment consistently from the beginning of this project, even though it's only a few hundred feet from a field office, I believe that this site has been neglected throughout - it's somewhat inconvenient to access. I believe that a number of failures are missed during "driveby" inspections - walking or driving inspections that stay close to the road, rather than evaluating the E&S controls from downstream or downslope, where the failures are much more obvious.

495 north of 236 access:
1-There is a long drainage channel in place (over a mile), that is composed on one side of silt fence. This is a poor design, and it's clear that sediment-contaminated water is exiting the channel through the silt fence.
2-Many of the check dams have been bypassed, resulting in an erosion gully on one side, adding more sediment to the downstream flow. Have these been built correctly?
3-There are erosion gullies that seem too large to have just occurred in the last rain event. I don't believe this area is being adequately monitored.
4-Large areas of construction dirt are not adequately seeded or covered with straw. This has been reported previously

SW clover leaf of 236 interchange
1-Holes in silt fences
2-Supersilt fences have been underpassed - adequate SW controls?
2-SW controls in place may not be adequate

Coons Branch
1-Still silty - only 2-3 inches of visibility. Upstream of disturbance area, it runs clear. As mentioned in my previous report, I believe this is because there is constant flow along the channel draining along the NE section of the 495 236 interchange, which is not being adequately treated.
2-Significant disturbance at previously reported site, just east of 495:
->steep, recently excavated, exposed slopes with no sediment control features
->silt fences that are 3/4 underwater
->significant gullying, indicating inadequate upslope SW controls

Tributary South of 236 interchange
1-Significant accumulations of silt along concrete culvert lined with gravel check-dams. This sediment needs to be removed before it is washed into Accotink Creek

Stormwater pond in SW quadrant of 236 interchange
-There is a 3 foot deep erosion gully, which is weeks, if not months old. This site is a few hundred feet from a field office - how can there be such poor monitoring?
-The outflow is inadequately protected, and has not been adequately monitored. Even a slight rain event will result in significant sediment release into Accotink Creek.
-Adequate seeding and spreading hay would have minimized the sediment release. That has not been done.

Contact the investigator, Kris Unger E-mail.

Contact Friends of Accotink Creek, E-mail.

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