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NAO-2017-00235

Posted: 5/9/2018

Expiration date: 6/8/2018


FEDERAL PUBLIC NOTICE

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

APPLICANT
Wagman Heavy Civil
c/o Mr. David Lyle
26000 Simpson Road
North Dinwiddie, Virginia 23803

WATERWAY AND LOCATION OF THE PROPOSED WORK: The project is located in waters and wetlands associated with the hydrologic unit code (HUC) 02080104 (Lower Rappahannock watershed). The project area includes the Rappahannock River, Falls Run, a tributary to Hazel Run, and a tributary to Fall Quarry Run, all designated as resource protection areas (RPA) under the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act (CBPA) and all are tributaries to Chesapeake Bay.  This project is on Interstate-95 (I-95) southbound corridor between mile markers 135.3 and 129.3 in the City of Fredericksburg, and in Stafford County, and Spotsylvania County, Virginia.     

PROPOSED WORK AND PURPOSE: The proposed project is known as the I-95 Southbound Collector Distributor (CD) Lanes Design Build Rappahannock River Crossing Project. The applicant proposes to improve an approximate six mile long section of I-95 southbound corridor between mile markers 135.3 and 129.3 in the City of Fredericksburg, Stafford County, and Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Proposed improvements include the addition of three lanes parallel to the I-95 southbound general purpose lanes between Truslow Road and 1.29 miles south of Route 3 (Exit 130). The proposed lanes would be designated as general-purpose lanes and serve through traffic while the existing general-purpose lanes would be converted to CD lanes.  The project would include associated roadway improvements at Route 17 and on I-95, and the construction of new pier supported bridges over the Rappahannock River and Route 17. The applicant’s stated purpose for the project is to improve the level of service (LOS) on I-95 by providing additional capacity and improving mobility, and to improve safety by reducing conflict points between local and through traffic on I-95.   

Proposed impacts to wetlands and waters are associated with the fill for roadway embankments, construction of bridge piers, piping of streams within the median, stormwater management, and temporary construction-related activities. This project as proposed will permanently impact a total of approximately 0.101 acres of non-tidal wetlands, including 0.037 acres of palustrine forested (PFO) wetlands, 0.035 acres of palustrine scrub-shrub (PSS) wetlands, and 0.029 acres of palustrine emergent (PEM) wetlands. Additionally, the proposed project will result in permanent impacts to 1,552 linear feet of stream channel. The permanent impacts include 80 linear feet of perennial (R3), 1,367 linear feet of intermittent (R4), and 105 linear feet of ephemeral (RE). Temporary impacts to waters of the U.S. from construction activities associated with the causeway are estimated to be 30,480 square feet (0.70 acres) of the Rappahannock River and 10 linear feet of intermittent channel.  

Measures used to avoid and minimize the impacts to wetlands and waters of the U.S. include lane relocation from the original proposed design to the median of I-95 to reduce the impacts to resources within the project area, reduction of the number of bridge piers from four to two, elimination of the need for a temporary causeway associated with geotechnical boring sampling, design of stormwater best management practices (BMPs) to be located outside of jurisdictional areas, and the use of reduced fill slopes and retaining walls to avoid the need for culvert extensions.  

The applicant proposes to compensate for proposed permanent impacts through the purchase of mitigation bank credits from approved mitigation banks within the watershed; and once no additional mitigation bank credits are available, the remainder will be purchased through the in-lieu fee program within the watershed at a replacement ratio of 1:1 for PEM, 1.5:1 for PSS, and 2:1 for PFO wetland impacts for a total of 0.156 non-tidal wetland credits to be purchased. The applicant also proposes to purchase stream credits which will be based on the Uniform Stream Methodology, for a total of 1,493 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 (DEQ) assuring that applicable laws and regulations pertaining to water quality are not violated. This public notice and selected project drawings can also be viewed at: 

http://www.nao.usace.army.mil/Regulatory/PN/PN.html 

AUTHORITY: Permits are required pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 403), 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.  

The Federal Highway Administration (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) and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (PL 89-665).  FHWA prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the I-95 Rappahannock River Crossing project and issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) in November 2015.  FHWA completed a Re-Evaluation of the EA in September 2017, and re-confirmed the FONSI.  

Preliminary review indicates that (based on FHWA coordination): (l) no environmental impact statement will be required; (2) there may be an effect to listed/proposed/candidate species and/or designated/proposed critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (PL 93-205) and the applicant submitted documentation into the FWS ESA Online Project Review System on April 10, 2018. Coordination is still ongoing with USFWS and FHWA will complete consultation with USFWS as required.  Listed 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) were identified for the project location. The applicant has proposed the following effect determinations and the reasons for the determinations in the Species Conclusion Table: No effect for Harperella (Ptilimnium nodosum) [No suitable habitat present], No effect for Sensitive Joint Vetch (Aeschynomene virginica) [No suitable habitat present], May Affect, Not likely to adversely affect the Small Whorled Pogonia (Isotria medeoloides) [survey conducted by qualified surveyors on July 26, 2017 found one area  of potential habitat, but no individual specimens were found within the project area], and May Effect, Not Likely to adversely affect for the Northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis). Relying upon the findings of the 1/5/2016 Programmatic Biological Opinion for Final 4(d) Rule on the Northern Long-Eared Bat and Activities Excepted from Take Prohibitions to fulfill project-specific section 7, because the project site is not within 0.25 miles of hibernacula; and May Affect for Dwarf Wedgemussel (Alasmidonta heterodon), Yellow Lance mussel (Elliptio lanceolate), Green Floater mussel (Lasmigona subviridis) [survey conducted by qualified surveyors in October 2016 indicated that the Rappahannock River was the only perennial stream in the study area which contained suitable habitat for freshwater mussels, however no endangered mussels were found.  Mussel survey and relocation will be completed prior to causeway construction in coordination with the appropriate federal and state agencies], and the Atlantic sturgeon is listed under the ESA within National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) jurisdiction as having potential to occur in the action area per Chesapeake Bay distinct population segment (DPS) of the Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus), endangered (77 FR 5880, 2/6/2012) Atlantic sturgeon populates Atlantic Ocean waters and associated bays, estuaries, and coastal river systems.  The applicant further stated that the removal of the Embrey Dam in 2004 opened this portion of the river to anadromous fish, including the Atlantic sturgeon. Atlantic sturgeon have been observed in the Rappahannock River. According to the applicant, those observations have occurred farther downstream, outside the proposed project area. The applicant has stated that no effect to the Atlantic sturgeon is anticipated to result from the project construction and operation including the construction access routes. Informal coordination was conducted in May 2014 by VDOT on behalf of FHWA in preparation of the EA, at the time NOAA had no comments on the project.  FHWA’s effect determination on Atlantic Sturgeon will be necessary.  Based on comments from NOAA NMFS in response to this public notice, further consultation may be necessary. (3) there are known historic resources or properties eligible for inclusion or included in the National Register of Historic Places in or near the permit area. FHWA has coordinated the project with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and known consulting parties. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), on behalf of FHWA, made a determination that no known properties eligible for inclusion or included in the National Register of Historic Places in or near the permit area would be adversely affected by the proposal. VDHR concurred with the VDOT determination in 2015, basing the concurrence on the condition that VDOT on behalf of FHWA ensures the design of the new bridges across the Rappahannock River on its south bank do not impact the remnants of the Rappahannock Canal and the Canal Lock #1/Minor’s Lock (both of which are associated with the Rappahannock Navigational canal); VDHR further noted that they would like the opportunity to review the project plans for the bridges once finalized in the area of the canal resources.  The applicant stated that they will be providing VDHR with design plans at the 60 percent and 90 percent complete stages.  A Phase I Cultural Resource Survey is currently being conducted for the two proposed construction access routes and the survey and findings will be provided to VDOT (on behalf of FHWA) and VDHR for review and concurrence.  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. It is the applicant’s responsibility to submit a consistency certification to the Office of Environmental Impact Review for concurrence or objection and 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  

The Rappahannock River is designated as an anadromous fish use stream. The applicant stated that the causeway construction will occur outside of the TOYR for anadromous fish (February 15-June 30).   

COMMENT PERIOD: Comments on this project should be made in writing, addressed to the Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers (ATTN: CENAO-WR-R), 803 Front Street, Norfolk, Virginia  23510-1096, and should be received by the close of business on June 8, 2018.  

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   

 

chesapeake bay City of Fredricksburg Rappahannock River Spotsylvania County Stafford County