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2005 Environmental Excellence Awards

For Excellence in Ecosystems, Habitat, and Wildlife:

Fisheries-Hydroacoustics Mitigation for San Francisco Bay Bridges/Bioacoustics Workgroup

Unanticipated impacts to aquatic species from marine pile driving operations for the new east span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge led Caltrans and its Federal partners to develop innovative response strategies. With the assistance of expert consultants, Caltrans studied impacts to aquatic species during a pile installation demonstration for the project. Underwater sound pressure waves were monitored, impacts to fish were observed, and the effectiveness of innovative mitigation technologies was evaluated. Caltrans, the FHWA and NOAA Fisheries collaborated to streamline the environmental process through rapid response and emergency consultations on this cutting-edge issue. A highly effective bubble curtain system was developed, that substantially attenuated pile-driving noise, significantly reducing impacts to fish species. The successful results from this and other Bay Area projects led to the formation of the multi-agency Bioacoustic Workgroup. Composed of agency representatives supported by a panel of scientific experts, the Workgroup developed a report that establishes the current national scientific framework and common understanding of hydroacoustic effects on fish. The report also includes recommendations to guide the analysis of pile driving, and suggests further scientific research that will support the development of final protective guidelines for managing and minimizing the effects of pile driving on fish.

Project Contributors:

  • California Department of Transportation
    Cindy Adams | Janet Adams | Andrew Baskerville | Glenn E. Fleming | Keith Jones | Deborah C. McKee | Brian Maroney | Mara Melandry | Gary R. Winters
  • Federal Highway Administration, California Division
    Joan Bollman | Stephanie Stoermer
  • NOAA Fisheries, Southwest Region
    Patrick Rutten
  • Mardi C. Hastings, Ph.D.
  • Arthur N. Popper, Ph.D.
  • Illingworth & Rodkin, Inc.
  • Richard B. Rodkin, P.E.| James A. Reyff
  • Jones and Stokes, Inc.
    Dave Buehler
San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge
Updated: 12/03/2012
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