Sustainable infrastructure initiatives take off

November 2010 » Exclusive
The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey delivers cost-effective designs that minimize environmental impact.
Phil Cremin, P.E.
The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey recently rehabilitated Runway 13R-31L at John F. Kennedy International Airport. At 14,511 feet long, it is the second longest commercial runway in the United States.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) oversees some of the largest and busiest transportation facilities in the country. The aviation network carries approximately 107 million passengers, ships 1.3 million tons of air cargo, and includes 1.3 million flights on an annual basis. The five-airport system covers about 11,000 acres and includes approximately 20 miles of runway, 50 miles of taxiway, and 70 acres of apron pavement. The port facilities include six container terminals covering more than 1,300 acres. The tunnel and bridge system includes four interstate bridges and two tunnels, which carry approximately a quarter billion vehicles each year. For instance, the George Washington Bridge carried more than 100 million vehicles in 2009 and almost 10 percent of these vehicles were trucks.

As these facilities age and the need for rehabilitation increases, it is critical that the designs developed consider facility disruption and life-cycle cost to minimize wherever possible the impact on the public both within the region and beyond. The agency continually strives to deliver engineering designs for infrastructure projects that reflect the latest industry standards and are cost effective and sustainable. As the industry moves toward greater adoption of sustainable civil engineering practices, the PANYNJ has implemented practices described in this article that minimize environmental impacts, including stormwater management, reuse of materials and onsite recycling, trenchless technologies, pavement management, and wetland mitigation.

Stormwater management
The PANYNJ has implemented numerous best practices in stormwater management at its facilities throughout the agency. These include extensive use of manufactured treatment devices, infiltration trenches, underground detention, and the use of pervious pavement. Each project is evaluated based on regulatory requirements, environmental impacts, and potential impacts on cost and schedule before the decision is made on which systems to utilize.

At Stewart International Airport (SWF) in Orange County, N.Y., a fast-track design and construction project was initiated in August 2007 to complete a new parking lot within a three-month window. To expedite the permit process, the parking lot was designed using a pervious asphalt pavement system resulting in 100 percent of all stormwater infiltrating onsite. The 3-acre parking lot was completed on schedule in November 2007.

A second SWF project involved a 6-acre expansion of the main terminal parking lot. This lot also used a pervious asphalt pavement system and had an extensive subsurface stormwater drainage collection system. This system consisted of infiltration trenches, a sub-base with large voids, extensive use of rain tanks with filter fabric, as well as an extensive sub-drain system. This system infiltrated 100 percent of all stormwater at the site with no connection to the existing storm drainage system. The irrigation system uses collected rainwater from a central cistern and is equipped with solar-powered irrigation pumps.

Warm-mix asphalt
The PANYNJ initiated the use of warm-mix asphalt on a recent parking lot and roadway rehabilitation project. The environmental benefits of warm-mix asphalt include less energy consumption and fewer emissions during production; fewer emissions during construction; less equipment required and, consequently, fewer emissions during pavement construction; and potential enhanced durability. Recent warm-mix contracts were a parking lot rehabilitation at Newark Liberty International Airport and rehabilitation of the main restricted vehicle service road at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK).

Trenchless technology
The PANYNJ has used trenchless technology since 1991 on various projects. Trenchless technology reduces the amount of material removed and displaced, which reduces the energy required to construct compared with open-cut methods. Additionally, this technology reduces disruption to the site, which minimizes traffic congestion and air pollution during construction. At JFK, microtunneling was used to install power, water, and sanitary sewer lines both in the central terminal area and on the airfield. At Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), a major microtunnelling project involved installing a new 20-inch water main to provide a redundant supply to the airport. This project was located under a major thoroughfare in New Jersey, Route 1 & 9, and crossed under 10 lanes of traffic.

At SWF, the sanitary sewer system had a significant infiltration problem, which was overloading the local town treatment facility. The PANYNJ Engineering Department evaluated the system and looked at various repair and replacement options. Two trenchless technologies were chosen as the final design solution. Pipe bursting was used to replace the main trunk lines and a cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) was used for a 700-foot section that was adjacent to building foundations. The use of these technologies minimized the need for excavation and had the added benefit of minimizing disruption to the airport. Approximately 4,000 feet of 6- and 8-inch pipe were replaced or lined using these technologies.

(above) The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey has implemented stormwater best management practices including manufactured treatment devices, infiltration trenches (shown here), underground detention, and pervious pavement. (below) A new parking lot at Stewart International Airport in Orange County, N.Y., uses a pervious asphalt pavement system and an extensive subsurface stormwater drainage collection system. This system, which infiltrates 100 percent of all stormwater onsite, consists of infiltration trenches, a sub-base with large voids, extensive use of rain tanks with filter fabric, as well as an extensive sub-drain system.

Wetland mitigation
The PANYNJ initiated a major project to improve rail access to the Port Newark and the Elizabeth Port Authority Marine Terminal. This included providing support track to accommodate 2-mile-long trains and to integrate the rail traffic to and from the PANYNJ’s three ExpressRail facilities. As part of the environmental permit required for the project, a stormwater management system needed to be installed and a wetland mitigation area needed to be developed. An underground detention system was designed using five 48-inch concrete pipes, 250 feet in length. The water then went to a stormwater filtration device before discharging into the wetlands. A wetland mitigation area was also constructed in an adjacent area to comply with all permit requirements. This mitigation area included planting areas for Baccharis Halimifolia and Spartina Alerniflora.

Onsite material recycling
In preparation for the arrival of the A380 airplane, the centerline of one of the main taxiways at JFK needed to be shifted 16 feet for a total length of approximately 4 miles. A detailed study was conducted to evaluate the potential reuse of existing asphalt, lime cement fly ash pavements, and sandy subgrade soil. It was determined that the existing pavements could be reused onsite as a base course for the new pavement. The pavement was removed, crushed, treated with portland cement, and remixed onsite, and a rigorous testing program was followed to ensure all specification requirements were met. This eliminated the need for approximately 25,000 cubic yards of virgin material, and saved approximately $2 million in construction costs as well as significantly reduced truck traffic for aggregate delivery.

Construction debris recycling
Since January 2009, all PANYNJ contracts require the contractor to submit a Construction Debris Recycling Plan. This plan requires the contractor to provide documentation that 75 percent (by weight) of all steel, asphalt, concrete, and clean soil is recycled on a project-by-project basis. This goal has been met since the contract specification was introduced.

Pavement management
The PANYNJ has a comprehensive pavement management system that is used to manage rehabilitation and replacement of all PANYNJ pavements. Pavements are inspected on a regular cycle and pavement condition indices are developed. This information is combined with repair history and original construction documents to develop the type and recommended year for rehabilitation. This system ensures that pavements are rehabilitated at the correct time and funds are properly expended. Preventive maintenance such as sealcoats and thin overlays are also recommended where appropriate to extend pavement life and enhance pavement life cycle. Utility systems are also evaluated and replaced where appropriate to eliminate having to disrupt the area prior to the next pavement rehabilitation.

At the George Washington Bridge, all truck traffic has been required to use the upper level roadway since Sept. 11, 2001. The pavement consists of a 2-inch asphalt wearing course over a steel orthotropic deck. This additional truck traffic resulted in a reduced pavement life and required additional facility maintenance resulting in additional facility disruption. A study was undertaken to evaluate the potential for a high-performance, low-maintenance, more durable pavement system. After extensive testing, an asphalt mix was developed that included an additive — Rosphalt 50, as manufactured by Pittsburgh-based Chase Specialty Coatings. This mix was included in a major rehabilitation of the eastbound upper level in 2008. Since that time, it has also been included on the New Jersey approach to the Lincoln Tunnel and is currently being placed on the westbound lower level of the George Washington Bridge. This pavement has low air voids and also inhibits moisture from reaching the steel deck.

Sustainable infrastructure guidelines
Although there were many sustainable infrastructure initiatives under way throughout the agency, there was no central tracking mechanism to document their use. In addition, there was no centralized standard or reference document of these strategies for staff and consultants to use. To ensure that all potential sustainable infrastructure initiatives were evaluated on a project-by-project basis and to document these initiatives, the PANYNJ initiated an effort in 2009 to establish sustainable infrastructure guidelines for the agency. An interdepartmental team was established to spearhead this effort. Existing infrastructure guidelines in use by other agencies were evaluated for potential use by the PANYNJ. Because of the variety of facility types and the nature of the contracts at the PANYNJ, it was determined that we would need to develop a guideline specific for the agency. It was also determined that the guidelines needed to be flexible to reflect the variation in the type of work that is done from basic rehabilitation to major capital construction.

A high-performance, low-maintenance, more durable pavement system has low air voids and inhibits moisture from reaching steel bridge decks. After extensive testing, the mix was used in 2008 for a major rehabilitation of the eastbound upper level of the George Washington Bridge.

The first step was to develop a list of possible strategies that could be utilized. Drawing from existing projects and other agency guidelines, six categories of strategies were developed: site, water, energy, materials, construction, and operations and maintenance. During a six-month period, these strategies were developed into a list of credits for each of these categories (see Figure 1). These credits were evaluated based on the types of projects the PANYNJ designs and constructs. Through an extensive vetting process, it was determined that some credits were not applicable to typical PANYNJ projects and in some cases, similar strategies were merged into a single credit. At the completion of the effort, 49 credits were identified.

To determine how these credits would be incorporated into projects, a list of all Port Authority contracts having been bid during a two-year period was reviewed and grouped into project types: airfield, roadway, utility, parking, trackwork, port site work, intelligent transportation systems, bridges, and marine structures. There were also three supplemental categories: landscaping, exterior lighting, and mechanical/electrical and fire suppression systems. The projects are also categorized as rehabilitation or capital construction because of the limited opportunities to incorporate sustainable design strategies for rehabilitation projects.

Once the credit list and project type list was finalized, points were then established for each credit with credits that have less detrimental environmental impact being allocated more points. There was also variation on how many points could be achieved for certain credits based on level of achievement (for example, higher percentages of recycling would earn a greater point value). To establish levels of project achievement, past contracts for each project type were then run through the system, resulting in three levels of achievement as has become standard in these types of systems:

  • Certified (45 percent of total point allocation);
  • Gold (60 percent of total point allocation); and
  • Platinum (75 percent of total point allocation).

The PANYNJ is currently in a soft launch phase where pilot projects have been identified and are being evaluated with the draft guidelines. The lessons learned from the pilot projects will be incorporated into the final document as necessary. PANYNJ staff will be trained in the fall of 2010 and the full roll-out of the guidelines is expected in early 2011.

Conclusion
As sustainable design becomes a higher priority for transportation agencies, it is important to be able to document initiatives for future project use. The PANYNJ has been utilizing sustainable strategies because they provide efficiency, cost savings, and life cycle benefits in addition to lessening a project’s environmental impact. In the future, the guidelines will provide the department with a centralized location for this information as well as a platform for incorporating future initiatives.

Case Study: Rehabilitation of Runway 13R-31L at John F. Kennedy International Airport
Runway 13R-31L at JFK is 14,511 feet long and is the second longest commercial runway in the United States. The runway was originally constructed in 1953 and was last rehabilitated in 1993. The runway pavement had reached the end of its useful life and was in need of a major rehabilitation. It was decided to include widening to accommodate the larger A380 airplane and delay-reduction initiatives such as additional taxiway entrances and exits in the rehabilitation project. An integrated team approach was used involving all stakeholders and a peer-review session was held with the goal of attaining input early in the design process.

Once the plan was finalized, a life-cycle cost analysis was conducted to evaluate various rehabilitation alternatives. The results of this analysis indicated significant savings by utilizing concrete pavement. A major challenge with using concrete was that it required an extended runway closure. Because of the high volume of traffic, most runway rehabilitation work is done primarily during nights and weekends so the runway can be reopened and the impact on airport operations is minimized. After extensive discussions with the airline community and the Federal Aviation Administration, all stakeholders agreed to a 120-day full closure of the runway. The contract was structured to provide incentives for early completion and heavy penalties for not meeting the schedule. Major upgrades and replacements to the electrical and storm drainage systems were included in the scope to ensure there would be no need to return to the area.

In addition to using life-cycle cost analysis for alternative selection, numerous additional sustainable initiatives were incorporated into the design effort. A concrete batch plant was constructed onsite, which enhanced production and minimized off-airport truck traffic. The existing runway had approximately 16 inches of asphalt over a 12-inch-thick portland cement concrete base. Extensive testing determined that the runway base was still in good condition and the final design incorporated the existing base pavement into the new pavement design. The new pavement design called for an 18-inch-thick concrete pavement over the existing asphalt and concrete base. The top 6 inches of existing asphalt were removed so the finished grade of the runway was 1 foot higher than the existing grade. Saving the existing base resulted in a significant reduction in excavated material and reduced the amount of new aggregate materials.

Asphalt millings were reused as shoulder and erosion pavement as well as for constructing a haul road. Extensive cut and fill studies using AutoCAD Civil 3D were done to minimize the need for offsite disposal or new fill. An infiltration trench was incorporated into the design, which reduced the amount of stormwater collected in the drainage system. A significant sub-drainage system was installed using HDPE, which mandated a certain percentage of recycled material. Finally, the use of concrete reduced the heat island effect at the airport.

The new pavement design for Runway 13R-31L at John F. Kennedy International Airport called for an 18-inch-thick concrete pavement over the existing asphalt and concrete base.
Figure 1: Strategies and credits in the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey’s sustainable infrastructure guidelines.

Philip Cremin, P.E., assistant chief civil engineer at The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ), has 29 years of experience in infrastructure design at the PANYNJ. He oversees approximately 40 permanent staff members and manages the call-in consultant program for the civil group. Cremin is currently on the Port Authority committee responsible for development of sustainable design guidelines for infrastructure projects. Susanne E. DesRoches, LEED AP, sustainable design manager at the PANYNJ, supports the agency’s sustainability efforts through technical guidance and compliance methodologies for all projects and provides sustainable design oversight for large-scale projects such as the LaGuardia Modernization Program and the ARC Tunnel. She is leading development of sustainable design guidelines for infrastructure-type projects.


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