Ohio Turnpike Bridges: Ecological Survey & Environmental Permitting

Objective:
An ecological survey was performed prior to new bridge construction on the Ohio Turnpike over the Cuyahoga River in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This survey included a complete cross-section of the natural corridor: ridgetops, forested slopes, riverine floodplains, wetlands, the channel of the old Ohio & Erie Canal, and the Cuyahoga River. This project included all necessary ecological field studies and reporting to fulfill preparation of the ecological documents of an environmental assessment for the Federal Highway Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the Ohio Department of Transportation, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and the Ohio Turnpike Commission. State and federal wetlands and stream impact permits were also obtained.

Methodologies:
Davey performed an ecological survey and a wetlands delineation for the two-mile long study corridor. Davey scientists surveyed plant communities, wetlands, macroinvertebrates, fish communities, terrestrial vertebrates, and rare, threatened, and endangered species as part of this project. Special emphasis was placed on locating habitat for the federally endangered Indiana bat, as well as conducting netting surveys for spotted turtle, a state species of interest. All wetlands, plant communities, and potential Indiana bat habitat trees were located and mapped using a Global Positioning System (GPS). GPS data were downloaded, processed, and imported into AutoCAD software where accurate electronic maps were produced and provided to the project engineer. Fish and macroinvertebrate communities were studied following state sampling protocol.

Results:
The project engineer incorporated the findings into an Environmental Assessment document. Davey was responsible for securing the Section 401, 404, and 10 permits from Ohio EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; this included attending public hearings and preparing a wetlands mitigation plan. Following issuance of the permits, Davey directed the successful restoration and enhancement of six acres of wetlands within the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

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