Report highlights environmentalimpact of airport highway project
While the$67 million Airport Gateway Project will encroach on environmentally sensitive areas like wetlands and cut into hillsides, a feasibility study on the project indicates that it will not have a huge impact on the affected grounds.
The study, which was completed by China Construction America Incorporated, shows that there are several potential impacts including change in the drainage pattern; flooding; traffic; loss of natural features, habitats and species by construction and operation; pollution of potable, coastal, surface and ground water and air pollution, among others.
“The design and construction of the project shall not for the most part change the ecological environment along the road,”the study said.
“While the road extension may encroach on adjacent forest land, grassland, wetland and lakes and ponds on both sides of the existing road, all these issues can be mitigated and minimized through proper design and implementation of mitigation procedures, remediation and controls.”
The project will encompass approximately 6.2 miles of road running from Windsor Field Road to the new six-legged round-about on John F. Kennedy Drive.
The project will cover 110 acres of land and include the creation of nine roundabouts.
Minister of the Environment Dr. Earl Deveaux said the wetlands will be the area that is affected most by the road project.
That’s because the sixth roundabout will extend into the south eastern corner of Lake Cunningham, he noted. Contractors will also cut into areas of Lake Killarney.
The project will also require the acquisition of properties on both sides of the roadway in order to widen the corridor. It also means cutting into the JFK hillside.
The feasibility report indicates that some green space and vegetation will also be lost during the 19-month project. However, Deveaux said yesterday that certain trees will be preserved and replanted elsewhere.
He added that mahogany, pigeon plum, horseflesh, and other native flowering trees will be planted in the roundabouts.
The report states that contractors will employ certain protective measures to mitigate against certain environmental impacts. For instance, the contractors will develop protocols to prevent contamination and infiltration of existing bodies of water and wetlands. Additionally, preventative measures will include silt barriers, hay bales, geo-tech fabric, temporary drainage systems, sedimentation ponds, weirs etc.
During construction various procedures identified in the design to prevent erosion, dust control and stabilization of the sub base will be executed, including environmentally friendly dust protection, soil management techniques, noise abatement measures during construction, and slope erosion protection measures, among other things.
Finally, during the post-construction phase, recommendations for future expansion and noise abatement procedures will be provided.
The report adds that when the highway passes through the residential areas and scenery areas, the density of tree planting will be increased to constitute the greening visual barrier and to reduce noise impact. The planting density will also be increased in cases where carbon monoxideemissions and other gases may exceed the standard level.