November 30, 2015
FEDERAL PUBLIC NOTICE
The District Commander has received a joint application for federal and State permits as described below:
Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)
ATTN: Ms. Angel Deem, Director
1401 E. Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
WATERWAY AND LOCATION OF THE PROPOSED WORK:
The project is located along the Route 460 corridor in multiple tributaries to the Blackwater River and Lake Cohoon, Lake Meade, Lake Prince and Western Branch Reservoir, which are tributaries to the Nansemond River in the City of Suffolk, Isle of Wight County and Southampton County, Virginia.
PROPOSED WORK AND PURPOSE: The applicant proposes to construct improvements along the U.S. Route 460 corridor from approximately one mile west of Zuni to the Route 460/Route 58 interchange in Suffolk. While the total project encompasses a 52-mile corridor between I-295 in Prince George County and Route 58, only 16 miles of the project on the eastern end includes construction that will result in impacts to jurisdictional streams and wetlands. From approximately one mile west of Zuni to two miles west of Windsor (approximately 4 miles), the applicant proposes to reconstruct and upgrade existing Route 460 to a four-lane divided highway. From approximately two miles west of Windsor to the Route 460/Route 58 interchange in Suffolk (approximately 12 miles), the applicant proposes to construct a new four-lane divided highway that would run north around Windsor, then cross existing Route 460 east of Windsor and run south of the existing Route 460 to Route 58. No improvements are proposed for the remaining 36 western miles of the project corridor. The proposed improvements will include construction of stormwater management infrastructure, pipes for stream conveyance including new pipes under new highway sections, extension of existing pipes under existing Route 460, and replacement where necessary of existing pipes under existing Route 460. The proposed project includes eight bridges spanning existing roads five bridges crossing wetlands and streams. The applicant also proposes to construct two grade-separated interchanges, one approximately five miles west of Route 58 where the proposed Route 460 will cross existing Route 460 and also at the eastern terminus where the proposed Route 460 will connect with Route 58/existing Route 460 via General Early Drive.
The applicant’s stated purpose for the project is to construct a facility that is consistent with the functional classification of the corridor, sufficiently addresses safety, mobility and evacuation needs, and sufficiently accommodates freight traffic along the Route 460 corridor between Petersburg and Suffolk, Virginia.
In order to construct the roadway, the applicant proposes to permanently impact 35.77 acres of non-tidal wetlands (28.38 forested, 1.91 scrub-shrub, and 5.48 emergent) and temporarily impact 1.31 acres of non-tidal emergent wetlands. These impacts include the permanent conversion of 5.26 acres of forested wetlands to emergent wetlands along the full length of the project between the cut/fill for the roadway and a limited access fence. [Note: The proposed work will also result in conversion of 4 acres of forested wetlands beneath bridges to be constructed, which is not subject to Corps jurisdiction]. The applicant also proposes to permanently impact 7,663 linear feet (lf) of stream (5,695 perennial, 1,574 intermittent, 394 ephemeral; 789 lf of those impacts are to streams that are already located in culverts that will be replaced); temporarily impact 1,225 lf of stream (973 lf perennial, 206 lf intermittent, 46 lf ephemeral); permanently impact 9,339 lf of jurisdictional ditches; temporarily impact 1,763 lf of jurisdictional ditches; and permanently impact 3.93 acres of open water. Most temporary impacts result from construction access.
The application indicates that avoidance and minimization of impacts to aquatic resources have been an important consideration in project development. A range of alternatives were evaluated as part of an effort to avoid wetlands and streams, and the Preferred Alternative identified by the state, which is the alternative presented in the application, was selected in part to avoid such impacts. No construction is proposed for the western 2/3 of the project, as the No Build Alternative was selected for this portion of the Preferred Alternative. In order to further minimize impacts of the Preferred Alternative, the applicant evaluated modifications to the horizontal alignment (shifts), vertical alignment (reduction in fill slopes to reduce footprint) and typical section (seven different typical sections were developed for use in different situations to reduce impacts) at each impact area along the project. Permanently and semi-permanently flooded riverine wetlands (swamps) will be bridged by the project. Interchanges and crossings of roadways were designed to minimize impacts to wetlands and streams while meeting engineering and operational requirements. The application indicates the result of these avoidance and minimization measures reduced impacts to wetlands from 49 to 39.77 acres (about 10 acres of which are conversion from forested to emergent wetlands), based on field delineated wetlands limits. Stream impacts have been reduced from approximately 9,473 linear feet to 6,874 linear feet (does not include the length of stream channel already located in roadway pipes).
To compensate for unavoidable impacts, the applicant proposes the following combination of mitigation measures:
(1) Streams: purchase of 8,860 credits (based on the applicant’s application of the Unified Stream Methodology) from a stream mitigation bank [banks that include the impact area in their geographic service area currently do not have sufficient available credits for the proposed compensation, although additional stream credits may become available];
(a) use of 45.7 wetland mitigation bank credits [2:1 replacement ratio for forested, 1.5:1 ratio for scrub shrub, and 1:1 ratio for emergent wetlands; 1:1 is proposed for conversion from forested to emergent wetlands],
(b) restoration of 18 acres of former cypress-tupelo dominated wetlands which have been flooded by impoundment (six potential sites with a total of 38 acres in the appropriate watersheds have been identified by VDOT, but the application does not indicate which acres are proposed for restoration and a restoration plan was not submitted with the application), and
(c) preservation of mature cypress-tupelo wetlands which the applicant indicates would add to existing conservation lands managed by either The Nature Conservancy, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and/or the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation-Division of Natural Heritage. The application indicates the preservation of wetlands is proposed as additional compensation for cypress-tupelo dominated wetlands even though they propose to fully compensate for that category of wetlands through wetland restoration. [The applicant indicates a number of such sites are available for preservation, but neither specific sites nor acreages are proposed.]
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 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.
Preliminary review indicates that: The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is the lead federal agency for this project. (l) FHWA released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in 2005 and a Final EIS in 2008. In 2013, FHWA and the Norfolk District Corps of Engineers (USACE) determined that the preparation of a Supplemental EIS (SEIS) would be necessary in order to analyze new information bearing on the environmental impacts, including the aquatic resource impacts. A Notice of Availability of the Draft SEIS prepared jointly by FHWA and USACE was published in the Federal Register on 6 October 2014; a Final SEIS is under preparation; (2) After accessing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service database for Information, Planning, and Conservation System (IPaC), in which one species (the Northern long-eared bat, Myotis septentrionalis) listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544, 87 Stat. 884, as amended) was identified in the vicinity of the project, FHWA and VDOT determined that the proposed project may have an effect to this federally listed species. FHWA and VDOT in coordination with USFWS and through implementation of conservation measures, anticipates that the determination will be "may affect, not likely to adversely affect with avoidance and minimization measures." Coordination is ongoing; and (3) Executed in September 2007 and amended in August 2012 and November 2015, a Programmatic Agreement (PA) among FHWA, the Virginia State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), and VDOT sets forth the process that VDOT will follow, in consultation with the SHPO and others, to identify any new historic properties potentially affected by future design changes, assess the effects of the project on those properties, and identify and implement appropriate treatment actions to address any adverse effects. VDOT indicates that the PA administratively concludes the historic preservation process mandated by Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended (NHPA). 68 archaeological sites were identified; of the 29 sites that could be directly affected, VDOT is recommending that three are potentially eligible for the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), but Phase-II level evaluations would be required to definitively establish their eligibility. Only one architectural property, the remnants of a 1911 Balloon Track Foundation related to the Norfolk and Western Railroad’s Dwight Coaling Station, is located within the limits of disturbance. VDOT will be recommending to the SHPO that the remains of the balloon track foundation do not contribute to the significance of the railroad. No other architectural properties on or eligible for the NRHP have been identified within the FHWA Area of Potential Effects. However, there are seven architectural properties on, determined eligible for, or determined potentially eligible for the NRHP that may experience indirect effects, specifically changes to their historic setting or view shed. VDOT has determined that none of these changes will be adverse. VDOT will be coordinating these findings with the SHPO in the near future. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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 January 5, 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, please contact Alice Allen-Grimes at firstname.lastname@example.org.