State transportation department facing fines on parkway project
by Laura Camper
lcamper@annistonstar.com
Apr 13, 2012 | 5674 views |  0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Road construction equipment sits idle Thursday along Veterans Memorial Parkway. Photo: Laura Camper/The Anniston Star
Road construction equipment sits idle Thursday along Veterans Memorial Parkway. Photo: Laura Camper/The Anniston Star
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After being cited by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management for violations on the parkway project, the Alabama Department of Transportation has agreed to pay a penalty.

ALDOT could pay a $26,200 fine or, if approved by the environmental department, it could choose to do a supplemental environmental project in the state. The agreement negotiated between ALDOT and the department will not be finalized until after the environmental department advertises it for public comment, said Tony Harris, spokesman for ALDOT.

The environmental department inspected the site in June after receiving a complaint from Cane Creek Golf Course about dirty water running off the site. The department is charged with enforcing the federal water pollution control regulations in the state.

According to the agreement, which has yet to be signed by ADEM, storm water from the site was visibly dirty. Tests on water samples upstream and downstream from the discharge showed an increase of more than three times the allowable limit. The inspection also documented accumulations of sediment from the discharge.

ALDOT stopped work on the project after receiving a notice of violation dated July 11 from the department. Harris said it stopped work on the project to allow the contractor, Mississippi-based L & T Construction, to bring the project back into compliance.

However, since that time, ALDOT removed L & T from the project. Yates Construction, also based in Mississippi, was hired to finish the parkway.

“We take responsibility,” Harris said. “Ultimately, the permit is in our name.”

According to the agreement, ALDOT also has the option of doing a supplemental environmental project in the state in lieu of paying the fine. The environmental project must cost at least three times the fine or $78,600. Harris said if ALDOT chooses to carry out a project rather than pay the fine, it could be done anywhere in the state, not necessarily in Calhoun County.

The advantage to accomplishing a project rather than paying the fine would be that the department could improve an area such as a brownfield or a stream in need of restoration, he said.

“We work hard to be good environmental stewards,” Harris said. “Anytime we can help bring improvements to an area in need of environmental clean-up or restoration, the advantages go way beyond just ALDOT.”

ALDOT has 30 days to come up with a project and submit it to the department for approval. However, the administration has not decided what it will ultimately do, a project or pay the fine, he said.

While ALDOT is taking care of the penalty, eventually, the taxpayers will be reimbursed; the fine will be collected from the contractor who was working the project when it was cited, Harris said.

Star staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545.

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