Minnesota Agency, Contractor Pay Fine

The Minnesota Department of Transportation, Metro Division (MnDOT) and its construction contractor, Granite/McCrossan, agreed to share responsibility for a $75,000 penalty resulting from stormwater violations on a road reconstruction project between Minnetonka and Eden Prairie, Minn.

The alleged violations took place in 2005 and 2006 on an eight-mile stretch of road between Highway 5 and Interstate 394, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) stated on March 28. The 297-acre project included adding a third lane for traffic in both directions, the replacement of 14 bridges and the reconstruction of two major freeway interchanges.

On July 26, 2004, before construction began, MnDOT and Granite/McCrossan applied for a construction stormwater permit and prepared a plan for how they intended to protect nearby water bodies from dirty stormwater. Among other strategies, the plan called for the installation of silt fences and grass cover on dirt slopes to prevent erosion. While this plan was implemented rigorously, the parties failed to revise the plan when it became clear that certain strategies were not working, MPCA officials stated.

The agreement with MnDOT and Granite/McCrossan cites these parties'

  • failure to modify their stormwater pollution prevention plan.
  • failure to use more aggressive strategies to stabilize dirt slopes.
  • failure to remove construction-related sediment from a wetland.
  • failure to maintain temporary or permanent grass cover on steep dirt slopes.

Officials said the violations caused damage to three local water bodies: Minnehaha Creek, Lake Minnetoga and a Department of Natural Resources-protected wetland. Minnehaha Creek is included on the state's list of impaired waters.

MPCA inspectors observed muddy water flowing from the construction project into Lake Minnetoga and Minnehaha Creek. At a minimum, this sediment created the potential for significant adverse impacts to the wetland, including degradation of wildlife habitat.

Before the agreement was signed, MnDOT and Granite/McCrossan corrected the violations of their stormwater permit. The parties agreed to share the responsibility for the $75,000 penalty, and it has since been paid in full.

Sediment and other pollutants associated with stormwater can degrade the quality of streams, lakes and rivers.

For more information, contact the MPCA at http://www.pca.state.mn.us.

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