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NAO-2015-1768

Posted: 2/28/2017

Expiration date: 3/30/2017


 FEDERAL PUBLIC NOTICE

The District Commander has received a joint application for federal and state permits as described below:

 APPLICANT
City of Newport News

c/o Mr. Everett Skipper

2400 Washington Avenue

Newport News, VA 23607

 

WATERWAY AND LOCATION OF THE PROPOSED WORK: The project is located in tributaries and wetlands of Lucas Creek, unnamed tributaries of upper reaches of Deep Creek, both tributaries to the James River, and associated with the hydrologic unit code (HUC) 02080206 (Lower James watershed). The project is located on a 35 acre site at 500 Bland Boulevard in the City Newport News, Virginia, located southeast of the intersection of Bland Boulevard and Interstate 64.   

PROPOSED WORK AND PURPOSE: The applicant proposes to construct an Amtrak train station and associated parking, driveways, a wye (turning area), a service area, a pedestrian-friendly commuter center, stormwater management BMP, and utilities. The purpose of the project is to greater serve the transportation needs of the local community and region, and to allow for future growth of ridership through a multi-modal facility. The proposed station would accommodate increased ridership for additional trips per day, improve accessibility to the local and regional network, improve station capacity for passengers and parking, improve ADA accessibility, and provide capacity to support multimodal transportation connectivity.   

The preferred alternative determined by the City of Newport News and approved by the Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) requires a permanent easement for secondary access to the service area. No displacements or relocations of businesses are proposed. The proposed project area is undeveloped forested land with the exception of the former borrow pit and open area along Bland Boulevard, currently used as a temporary storage area for the City of Newport News recyclable materials program.   

As part of the proposed project, the existing pond and former borrow pit will be filled to grade for the construction of the sidewalks and pedestrian trails, as well as the turning wye for trains and the bus access road. Due to the low lying nature of the former borrow pit, a portion of the area will be used for stormwater management. Fill material for non-structural fill areas, such as landscaped areas, will be from both on-site and off-site borrow. Fill material for all structural fill areas, tracks, access roads, buildings, etc. will be certified, clean fill from an off-site approved source in accordance with the City of Newport News and VDOT requirements.     

This project will permanently impact 230 linear feet of perennial stream, 1.61 acres of palustrine emergent (PEM) wetlands, 0.53 acres of palustrine forested wetland (PFO), and 1.66 acres of palustrine open water (POW).  A portion of the stream impacts are for bank stabilization to prevent erosion downstream of proposed culvert extensions. Temporary impacts will include 0.42 acres of PEM wetlands and 0.11 acres of PFO wetlands.    

The application states that the applicant has reduced impacts to wetlands and streams through avoidance and minimization efforts. Measures used to minimize the impacts include researching alternatives that would require the least amount of impact to aquatic resources, streambank stabilization measures, use of the current borrow pit for storm water management to avoid impacts to wetlands, and modifications in the engineering design placing proposed construction as far north as possible to avoid impacts to the riparian wetlands along Lucas Creek. The new rail station is sited such that the building avoids wetland and stream impacts. Curvature was added to the station access road to further minimize wetland impacts. The proposed impacts are due primarily to the new track, access roads, parking lot construction, and culvert extensions.  

To compensate for impacts, the applicant proposes to purchase mitigation bank credits from a bank at a replacement ratio of 1:1 for PEM wetlands and 2:1 for PFO wetlands which includes the project site in its geographic service area.  The applicant also proposes to purchase stream credits which will be based on the Uniform Stream Methodology, for a total of 208 stream credits.   

In addition to the required Department of the Army permit, the applicant must obtain a Virginia Water Protection Permit/401 certification from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality assuring that applicable laws and regulations pertaining to water quality are not violated. Project drawings are attached. 

AUTHORITY: Permits are required pursuant to Sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act (Public Law 95-217) and Title 62.1 of the Code of Virginia.  

FEDERAL EVALUATION OF APPLICATION: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. The decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefits which reasonably may be expected from the proposal must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All of the proposal's relevant factors will be considered, including conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, cultural values, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, flood plain values, land use classification, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, consideration of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people. The Environmental Protection Agency's "Guidelines for Specification of Disposal Sites for Dredged or Fill Material" will also be applied (Section 404(b) (1) of the Clean Water Act).   

The Corps of Engineers is soliciting comments from the public; federal, state, and local agencies and officials; Indian Tribes; and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps of Engineers to determine whether to issue, modify, condition or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.  Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity. Anyone may request a public hearing to consider this permit application by writing to the District Commander within 30 days of the date of this notice, stating specific reasons for holding the public hearing. The District Commander will then decide if a hearing should be held. 

FHWA is the lead agency for this project and will be coordinating all final required consultations to fulfill the collective federal responsibilities under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (PL 93-205), Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (PL 89-665), and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-267).  Preliminary review indicates that: (l) FHWA prepared an Environmental Assessment and signed a Finding of No Significant Effect (FONSI) in October of 2016, no environmental impact statement will be required; (2) FHWA accessed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service database for Information, Planning, and Conservation System (IPaC), to determine whether listed/proposed/candidate species and/or designated/proposed critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544, 87 Stat. 884, as amended; ESA) have been identified in the vicinity of the project and completed coordination for the Northern Long-eared bat, NLEB, (Myotis septentrionalis). FHWA determined on the species conclusion table that the project “may affect” the Northern Long-eared bat, based on the findings of the January 5, 2016 Programmatic Biological Opinion for the Final 4 (d) Rule on the NLEB. USFWS concurred on March 29, 2016 that additional coordination was not necessary. (3) The Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad/CSX Railroad is located to the immediate east of the project site. The features is listed as not being evaluated. The proposed project will result in construction of a new track parallel to the existing track, but actual disturbance or work on the CSX rail bed is not proposed. FHWA coordinated with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDHR), and a historical and cultural resources survey was conducted in November of 2014. FHWA noted one archaeological location that was determined to be not eligible for listing and one architectural resource identified in the project’s Area of Potential Effects, the Denbigh Church cemetery, which is eligible for listing on the National Registry of Historic Places (NHRP). DHR issued a concurrence with a finding of no adverse impacts to cultural or historic resources on February 2, 2015. Based on the proposed project and FONSI, FHWA does not believe that historic resources will be adversely impacted by the project. A copy of the Cultural Resources Survey for the Proposed Multimodal Transportation Station Project Area is on file with VDHR. (4) The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-267), requires all federal agencies to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on all actions, or proposed actions, permitted, funded, or undertaken by the agency, that may adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). Preliminary review shows that EFH species may be present within the project review area. As the lead federal agency, FHWA will consult with NMFS to determine the project’s effects on EFH. (5) FHWA and/or its’ authorized agent has documented that according to the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps, floodplains are located within the project site area (1.8 acres of floodplain and 0.3 acres of floodway) and has coordinated with the local floodplain administrator and FEMA. A majority of the site is located within Zone X, with a 0.2% annual chance of flooding, and a small portion is within Zone AE, which has a 1% annual chance of flooding based on the 100-year flood data. FHWA determined in its FONSI that the project would have no effect on flooding risks. Additional information might change any of these findings.  

For compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended for projects located in Tidewater, the applicant must certify that federally licensed or permitted activities affecting Virginia's coastal uses or resources will be conducted in a manner consistent with the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program (VCP) and obtain concurrence from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Office of Environmental Impact Review (OEIR). We have not received a certification from the applicant prior to publication of this public notice. The applicant did submit a consistency certification to the Office of Environmental Impact Review for concurrence or objection on November 8, 2016.  Proof of concurrence must be submitted to the Corps prior to final permit issuance. A template federal consistency certification can be found here:

http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/EnvironmentalImpactReview/FederalConsistencyReviews.aspx#cert.

For more information or to obtain a list of the enforceable policies of the VCP, contact the Department of Environmental Quality, Office of Environmental Impact Review at (804) 698-4330 or e-mail: bettina.sullivan@deq.virginia.gov or john.fisher@deq.virginia.gov. 

COMMENT PERIOD: Comments on this project should be in writing and can be sent by either email to lee.fuerst@usace.army.mil or by regular mail, addressed to the Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers (ATTN: CENAO-WR-R), Ms. Lee Fuerst, 803 Front Street, Norfolk, Virginia  23510-1096, and should be received by the close of business on March 30, 2016.  

PRIVACY & CONFIDENTIALITY: Comments and information, including the identity of the submitter, submitted in response to this Public Notice may be disclosed, reproduced, and distributed at the discretion of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Information that is submitted in connection with this Public Notice cannot be maintained as confidential by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Submissions should not include any information that the submitter seeks to preserve as confidential.  

If you have any questions about this project or the permit process, contact

Lee Fuerst at 757-201-7832 or email her at lee.fuerst@usace.army.mil.   

Deep Creek James River Lucas Creek Newport News