Ala. Resumes Work on U.S. 98

Thu February 14, 2008 - Southeast Edition
CEG



MOBILE, Ala. (AP) Construction crews resumed roadbed work Jan. 7 on U.S. 98 in western Mobile County after a 14-week shutdown to bring the project into compliance with environmental regulations.

The project was halted after muddy runoff reached Mobile’s drinking water in Big Creek Lake, prompting a lawsuit in November by the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System. The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) also has proposed a $75,000 fine against the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) for the environmental violations.

ADEM could have levied a higher fine, up to $250,000, but compromised to “resolve the matter amicably,” according to state documents reported Jan. 3 by the Press-Register.

ALDOT also will have to remove some sediment from Big Creek Lake as well as certain creeks and wetlands. ADEM will make a final decision on the penalty after a public comment period that ends Feb. 1.

ALDOT has instructed its contractor, W.S. Newell Inc. of Montgomery, to resume roadbed work Jan. 7, ALDOT spokesman Tony Harris said in a statement.

Transportation Director Joe McInnes on Sept. 19 halted all roadbed construction and ordered all work to focus on bringing the project into compliance with state and federal environmental regulations.

While limited construction is resuming, ALDOT officials will halt the work if inspections detect problems with erosion and sediment control, Harris said.

The area where roadbed construction will resume is between Tanner Road and the Mississippi state line, all of which goes through the Escatawpa River drainage basin.

There are extensive erosion and sediment controls in place, and work will be supervised by ALDOT construction and environmental officials under daily project management by engineers from Thompson Engineering, Harris said.

Roadbed construction on the eastern segment of the project which goes through the Big Creek Lake drainage basin remains on hold as erosion control work continues.

Additional erosion control measures are being taken across the entire project to cover the dirt roadbeds with 3 in. (7.6 cm) of crushed stone and a rolled erosion control product, ALDOT said.