Monday, September 05, 2011

Environmental Consulting Firm Protects ICC Area Environment

Betsy Weinkam, left, and her husband Chuck Weinkam, right, run the Annapolis-based environmental consulting company, Coastal Resources, Inc, which has a contract with the Maryland Highway Administration to mitigate potential environmental that could be caused by the Intercounty Connector.  The state of spending millions in ICC money to restore streams badly eroded from decades of rainwater rushing off dirty roofs, streets and driveways. With the influx of ICC money, the state has accelerated into a few years stream improvements that would have taken 20 years for local governments to afford.

The Center was the only environmental group to support the ICC.  Although it was one of the Washington areas's most environmentally controversial highway projects, the Center had no doubt that the benefits of the project far outweighed any minor environmentla damage.  At the top of our list was reducing congestion and getting parents home to their kids earlier.  The Center also believes that relieving congestion reduces air pollution in the area.   We also know the watershed very well and believe that the highway can and will be constructed in an environmentally friendly manner.  The Coastal Resources, Inc contract is proof of the seriousness the State of Maryland takes in protecting the environment.

Intercounty Connector
Weinkam’s consulting job as the ICC’s environmental manager is highly unusual. Many transportation projects have someone who oversees federally required work to reduce and offset a new road’s environmental impacts.  However, Weinkam’s job goes even further because the 18.8-mile ICC project is one of the few that also will repair environmental damage that occurred long before the six lane highway’s construction. Weinkam oversees 51 projects, mostly restoring eroded stream banks and installing storm water management systems in older neighborhoods upstream from the highway.Those projects, along with design changes such as building longer bridges to span entire flood plains along streams, are credited with helping the ICC win federal and state approval after decades of debate.

The first 7.2-mile section opened between Gaithersburg and northern Silver SpringinFebruary; the remainder is scheduled to open by early 2012, stretching between northern Silver Spring and Interstate 95 in northwestern Prince George’s County.

Coast Resources, Inc's work in the Paint Branch area will prove critical beyond replenishing the supply of brown trout. Because the brown trout need cold, clean water to spawn, they are considered an “indicator species” that signals a stream’s overall water quality. The Paint Branch feeds into the Anacostia River and ultimately theChesapeake Bay. The environmental consulting work of Coastal Resources, Inc is helping to build the $2.56 billion toll road, overseeing $110 million worth of environmental work designed to reduce and offset its impacts on the streams, wetlands and wildlife in its path.  (Wash Post, 9/5/2011)

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