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Document Type

Book Chapter


Virginia Institute of Marine Science


Joseph A. Mihursky and Ann Chaney

Publication Date


Book Title

New Perspectives in the Chesapeake System: A Research and Management Partnership, Proceedings of a Conference December 4-6, 1990 Baltimore, MD


Chesapeake Research Consortium


CRC Publication No. 137


The population of coastal counties in the United States is over six-fold higher than non-coastal counties and population density along the Atlantic coast is much greater than all other coasts in the nation. Many areas around the Chesapeake Bay watershed are participating in this growth and extensive interstate construction is planned for this region. A wide array of primary ecological risks to the Chesapeake Bay exists, and may be classified as biological, physical, or chemical. Biological risks range from physical threats to motorists and animals to genetic risks to local flora and fauna populations. Island biogeography theory can be used to predict species losses associated with highway construction and resultant limits to migration. Introduction of exotic species and loss of ecologically significant areas (e.g. wetlands) are included as biological risks. Physical risks are primarily associated with hydrology, erosion, and related water quality considerations. Chemical concerns can be described as either chronic, such as certain airborne pollutants, or acute, such as accidental or illegal discharges. Secondary risks associated with highway construction result from facilitated traffic flow. Included are a variety of effects resulting from urban sprawl, strip development, and economic development of adjacent areas. Some ecological risks have received legislative, and subsequently transportation department attention. However, most ecological risks do not affect the decision-making process.

Ecological Risk Assessment for Highways in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed