During the planning and approval process for building a new bridge, the New York State Thruway Authority (NYSTA) made assurances to the residential communities on both sides of the river that this project would have minimal environmental impact to the public. As part of these assurances, the NYSTA committed to provide real-time environmental monitoring in the communities. Some of the potential undesirable effects of the bridge construction on the surrounding area were noise, vibration, and airborne particulates (dust). The NYSTA, through its construction consortium, specified a monitoring system provide this data 24/7 to project personnel and to the public. The environmental measurements had to be taken simultaneously and in real-time, at various locations in the communities surrounding this large construction site.
Triumvirate Environmental installed 12 environmental monitoring stations at strategic locations in residential neighborhoods, near sensitive receptors (e.g., public parks), and along roadways. The overall system was designed to operate automatically and be monitored remotely, eliminating the need for onsite personnel to continuously operate and maintain the system. Data from the all the monitoring stations was integrated as part of the Greenlight™ Environmental Monitoring System with meteorological data from two weather stations, one on each side of the river. The real-time monitoring results were streamed live to project personnel and uploaded in graph format to the public project website every 30 minutes. Each environmental monitoring station measured real-time noise levels and also made an audio recording of sounds exceeding the noise threshold. Real-time seismograph readings were recorded and alerts were provided if vibration levels exceeded project thresholds. Dust levels were measured for two particle size ranges of interest to human health (PM10 and PM 2.5).
The data collected by the Greenlight™ System provided immediate feedback to project personnel to allow them to respond to conditions that may be trending to potentially exceed established threshold guidelines. Data collected showed that the bridge construction activities had minimal adverse environmental impact to the community. The Greenlight™ System operated reliably and remotely 24 hours a day, seven days a week from June 2013 through July of 2020.
Each year of the project, over 10 million sampling data points were gathered with a 99.5% uptime. This data included points for noises, vibrations, dust, and weather. Also, a comparative trend analysis threshold was developed to evaluate the particulate concentrations (PM10 and PM2.5) of all six stations located on each side of the river to identify if concentrations levels of individual stations were increasing significantly in relation to all of the others. Finally, the system was operated automatically and remotely, translating to potential onsite labor savings exceeding $5 million for the project.