Environmental Reports

CSX is taking significant precautions to maintain a safe, secure project environment throughout reconstruction of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel. As part of these precautions, experts applied Federal and District standards to conduct rigorous modeling and testing to identify potential construction impacts and then develop plans to offset disruptions, such as noise, vibration and air quality. Throughout construction, we will use a comprehensive monitoring program to make sure those plans are effective and, if needed, we will adjust our approach to ensure the necessary mitigation measures are in place to address unforeseen conditions.

In accordance with the Record of Decision, the project team will monitor and record air quality, noise and vibration conditions, and post monthly reports on the project website.

Prior to the start of construction the project team performed air, noise and vibration monitoring to establish a baseline and used the data to develop construction plans. Pre-construction monitoring reports are available here.

Monitoring devices are installed in the community to record vibration, noise and air-quality conditions. Environmental experts will analyze the data collected and issue monthly reports that summarize the monitoring data. The reports will contain the monitoring data and explain exceedances of project standards as well as the actions taken to address those exceedances.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is overseeing the construction process to ensure that the appropriate noise, vibration and air-quality mitigations are carried out. The public can report noise, vibration and air-quality concerns here or call our office at (800) 494-1049.

Noise and Vibration

The Record of Decision required the development of extensive mitigation plans to reduce noise and vibration impacts whenever possible. For instance, we will use specialized equipment and construction techniques designed to limit noise and vibration such as drilling support piles instead of driving them. Additionally, at sensitive locations, construction crews will set-up fencing with noise-dampening blankets or other mitigation measures to act as a noise barrier. We will also restrict the use of high-vibration activities to weekday daytime hours.

The project team will notify residents and businesses in advance about upcoming high-noise and vibration producing activities via email blasts and website updates.

The graph below shows common noises and their corresponding noise levels, to help neighbors compare the results of noise monitoring to some of the common sounds encountered in a modern urban environment.

For comparison the supplemental chart below shows common noise sources.

The project team installed noise and vibration monitors at eight locations in the community to measure the construction vibration and construction noise produced by the project. The noise meters around the construction site are configured to express sound pressure levels as A-weighted decibels (dB(A)). A-weighted decibels account for the relative loudness of sounds in air as perceived by the human ear.

Throughout construction, the monitoring devices will collect noise and vibration data. The data will be evaluated and mitigations will be implemented as required by the Record of Decision. The project engineers will adjust construction activities if necessary.

Please find the most recent noise and vibration monitoring reports here:

Noise Monitoring Summary Reports

Vibration Monitoring Summary Reports

For a full list of environmental monitoring reports, please visit our Environmental Monitoring Reports Archive

Air Quality

The VAT project team has implemented specific measures to limit the project’s impact on air quality. For instance, we will limit dust around the construction site by setting-up windscreens, using watering trucks and sprinklers to limit dust from haul roads and other dirt-exposed areas, routinely cleaning public roads, covering trucks during transport of fill materials and soil, and stabilizing and covering material stockpiles.

There are four real-time monitoring stations to actively collect perimeter air-monitoring data around the tunnel reconstruction site. The air monitoring equipment measures air concentrations of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and airborne particulate matter (PM10). For more information about these substances, please click here.

Throughout construction, the air monitoring stations will record the concentration of VOC, CO, SO2, NO2 and PM10 in the air and automatically report back to the environmental experts. The data will be reviewed to ensure the mitigation program is working and if necessary alert the project team to adjust the construction approach.

Please find the most recent air monitoring reports here:

Air Monitoring Summary Reports

Air Quality Chart

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

  • VOCs are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids.

  • Outdoors, VOCs are mostly released during manufacturing.

  • Indoors VOCs are mostly released from the use of certain products and materials.

  • VOCs are emitted by products such as fuels, paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives.

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

  • CO is a colorless, odorless, gas formed when carbon in fuels is not burned completely.

  • It is a byproduct of highway vehicle exhaust. 

  • Automobile exhaust causes the majority of CO emissions.

  • Other sources of CO emissions include industrial processes and fuel combustion in sources such as boilers and incinerators.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2)

  • SO2 is a colorless gas or liquid.

  • It results from burning fossil fuels and refining sulfide containing ores. 

  • The largest sources of SO2 emissions are from fossil fuel combustion at power plants and industrial facilities.

  • Other sources of SO2 emissions include industrial processes and the burning of high sulfur fuels by locomotives, large ships, and non-road equipment.  

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)

  • NO2 is composed of nitrogen and oxygen.

  • It forms when fossil fuels such as coal, oil, gas or diesel are burned at high temperatures. 

  • NO2 forms from emissions from cars, trucks and buses, power plants, and off-road equipment.

  • NO2 can also form indoors when fossil fuels like wood or natural gas are burned.

Airborne Particulate Matter (PM10)

  • Airborne particulate matter is solid or liquid particles found in the air.

  • Some particles are large or dark enough to be seen while others are so small they can be detected only with an electron microscope. 

  • Airborne particulate matter includes dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets 

Environmental Monitoring Reports Archive