With community opposition to its project, Loyola finds the right partner to change hearts and minds
Former landfills and quarry reclaimed for use – but not without a fight
Loyola University Maryland is located in an established residential section of Baltimore, with little potential for growing their campus footprint through adjacent real estate. In order to expand their onsite academic facilities, they decided to free up campus real estate by relocating their athletic complex offsite, and in 1999 reached agreement to purchase a 52-acre parcel nearby that had been the site of three municipal solid waste landfills – one of them a former gravel quarry with municipal solid waste as deep as 215 feet.
The project posed significant engineering challenges given that much of the final facility would rest on land that had been created through uncontrolled filling, with the prospect of long-term settlement taking as much as a century to conclude. The landfill waste raised additional questions, both of its stability as a subsurface component, as well as its potential to pollute the neighborhood’s air, soil and water. This latter issue became flashpoint for vocal opposition to the project that would persist for years. Another prominent objection was the college’s encroachment into what had become de facto public green space.
Engineering a human solution
Haley & Aldrich provided geotechnical engineering, hydrogeological evaluations, and human health and environmental risk assessment services for the university. Sustainability was also an issue we brought to the table, as well as respect for the needs of all stakeholders – including project opponents. Working closely with the city of Baltimore and the Maryland Department of the Environment, the design team developed recommendations for the project that would meet all parties’ requirements.
After site research, a plan was designed to reduce the impacts of future landfill settlements on the site infrastructure. Deep dynamic compaction treatment of the existing municipal solid waste and landfill was proposed to reduce future settlements in sensitive areas.
To deal with concerns about the proposed re-grading of the closed landfills, a series of vegetated reinforced steep slopes was planned for five sensitive areas of the site. Designed with built-in geotechnical instrumentation utilized to record any settlement, the engineered slopes would be constructed up to 95 feet high using controlled fill to minimize settlement beneath the access roads and playing fields. Also, the vegetation on the slopes would support the natural greening of the facility as viewed from local neighborhoods.
Based on the results of the environmental risk assessment, recommendations included installation of a landfill gas control system, plus engineering controls to reduce potential noxious odors. The landfill gas control system included a geomembrane barrier over porous stone and geocomposite gas collection zones, with collection pipes and a blower system for venting and odor control that responded to concentration levels throughout the site.
One happy campus
Loyola’s new athletic complex went into service in March 2010. About 40 acres of its woodland are permanently committed to public use. The former landfills are now an asset to the university and the community.
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