Freshwater Reviews, Vol 5, No 2 (2012)

A Critical Review of the Effects of Motorway River Crossing Construction on the Aquatic Environment

Letizia Cocchiglia, Patrick J Purcell, Mary Kelly-Quinn
DOI: 10.1608/FRJ-5.2.489 | Pages: 141-168


One potential threat to aquatic ecosystems is the construction of river crossings to facilitate a motorway network.  This activity can pose considerable risk to both the physical-chemical and ecological quality of the aquatic environment.  Directives, such as The EU Water Framework requires member states to ensure that there is no further “degradation in water quality” and to maintain “good ecological and chemical status” of surface waters by 2015.  In light of this it is vital to understand the possible impacts of river crossing construction.  This paper represents a critical review of the current knowledge on the impacts of river crossing construction which are addressed in three subjects, 1) water quality, 2) river hydraulics and 3) aquatic ecology.  The review has identified knowledge gaps in all three areas with suspended solids being identified as a priority impact and current legislation in terms of river crossing construction may not be adequate in preventing large inputs of suspended solids.