Sunbelt Rentals Roadway Keeps Dam Removal Project Afloat to Restore Fish Migration to Chesapeake Bay

In the summer of 2015, Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) worked on a dam removal project in Centreville to open new waterways for migrating fish trying to reach Chesapeake Bay tributaries for spawning. Many dams, like this one, were built as far back as the 1800s, and changed the local ecosystem and degraded water quality of the watershed. The dams also blocked the migration of several species of fish and aquatic life through the streams, rivers, and tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay.


After the main concrete portions of the dam were removed, it was time to create a new channel for the water to travel. Contractors had to try to work on top of the riverbed, thick with years of decayed vegetation, now layered in black mud and several feet deep in some spots. They had to create a roughly 150’ long by 3’ wide channel through the former impoundment.  But to access the site, they had to drive their excavator onto the soft, muddy river bed. The wooden crane mats that were initially used were no match for the black muck and the mats sank, taking the excavator with them. The job stalled.

DNR needed a quick solution so they called on a Sunbelt Rentals location near Baltimore, Maryland. Sunbelt Rentals provides composite matting that joins together with locking pins to create a puzzle-like roadway with varying configurations. The composite mats are impermeable and do not soak up water or sentiment like wooden mats do. And their design allows weight to be distributed evenly throughout the roadway, creating a stable surface for heavy vehicles and equipment.

“The folks at Sunbelt Rentals were crucial in getting this project done right and getting it completed on time for summer planting.  We spent over two years gathering data, competing for grants, and preparing design plans for the project.  We always try to plan for the unexpected, but were completely caught off guard by how ineffective the wooden crane mats were in the impounded sediments behind the dam.  With hardly any lead time at all, Sunbelt Rentals had mats and a friendly crew on site to bail us out.  We look forward to working with Sunbelt Rentals again in the future!”

- Jim Thompson, Fish Passage Coordinator for State of MD, DNR

Within five days, Sunbelt Rentals installation team delivered and installed 140 mats to create a stable roadway through the former impoundment.  With a stable roadway installed, the contractor was able to get back to work. Excavators were used to create a new channel immediately and complete the project on time.  Native vegetation was planted around the channel and today the fish are able to migrate through Centerville and back down to the Chesapeake Bay.


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