Published Jan. 18, 2017
Expiration date: 2/17/2017

The district commander has received a joint application for federal and state permits as described below:

Chesapeake Tunnel Joint Venture
c/o Andres Gonzalez Lopez
5700 Thurston Avenue, Suite 102
Virginia Beach, Virginia 23455 

WATERWAY AND LOCATION OF THE PROPOSED WORK:  The project is located in the Chesapeake Bay at Thimble Shoal, on the Lucius J. Kellam, Jr. Bridge Tunnel which connects Virginia Beach to the Eastern Shore of Virginia. 

PROPOSED WORK AND PURPOSE:  The applicant proposes to construct a new parallel two-lane tunnel approximately 6,525 feet in length using a tunnel boring machine, with 5,356 linear feet located below Mean High Water (MHW). The purpose of the project is to improve regional mobility by increasing road capacity, minimizing lane closures, supporting economic vitality between the Eastern Shore and the rest of the Commonwealth, and by enhancing corridor safety. 

Activities associated with this project include the construction of two engineered rock berms, both of which are located predominantly underwater. The first berm is approximately 1,300 feet long and extends off of Portal Island 1. The other berm extends off of Portal Island 2 for approximately 1,400 linear feet. These berms will be constructed by mechanical dredging, sheet pile installation, and the placement of engineered or flowable fill, exterior bedding stone, filter stone, and armor stone. Each engineered berm will extend channelward from its prospective portal island, will be approximately 290 feet wide (at its widest point), and will impact an approximate 9 to 9.5 acre area. Final water depths over the berms will extend from 0 feet to -60 feet at Mean Low Water (MLW). The maximum footprint of the new berms will permanently impact approximately 18.5 acres of subaqueous bottom (9.0 acres at Portal Island 1 and 9.5 acres at Portal Island 2). Of the 18.5 acre total, 1.3 acres will be habitat loss; the remaining 17.2 acres of will be habitat conversion due to changes in water depth or bottom substrate from sandy habitat to rock/reef. 

At Portal Island 1, a hollow steel pile-supported temporary dock/unloading facility approximately 100 feet by 250 feet (25,000 square feet total) will be constructed on the western side and will be used by barges and vessels delivering construction equipment and bulk materials. There will also be pile and anchor installation (up to 30 combined piles and anchors) adjacent to the west and east sides of Portal Islands 1 and 2 for construction mooring, installation of up to six vibrating wire piezometers (offset from the tunnel alignment) to measure static pressure, and the removal and temporary subaqueous stockpiling of approximately 20,000 cubic yards of armor stone adjacent to each portal island. The armor stone stockpile area adjacent to Portal Island 1 will be approximately 5.43 acres, and the armor stone stockpile area near Portal Island 2 will be approximately 7.29 acres. There will also be jet grouting operations on the engineered berm at Portal Island 2 to stabilize unsuitable foundation material. The residual material from the jet grouting, as well as material from the tunnel boring operation, will be disposed of at an approved off-site location(s). This bulked material may total approximately 630,000 cubic yards. 

Additional construction activities in waters of the U.S. may include settlement mitigation activities which could extend 850 feet channelward parallel and adjacent to each of the engineered berms. These settlement mitigation activities could include a combination of jet grouting, sheet pile installation, or drilled unreinforced concrete piles to offset settling between the new and existing tunnels. The first three bridge trestle spans and abutments at each of the portal islands will be replaced, repaired, or modified, and bridge trestle pilings along the three trestle spans will also be repaired (e.g., piling jackets) as necessary. Lastly, the existing fishing pier superstructure at Portal Island 1 will be replaced, and any deteriorated pilings will be repaired as needed. The temporary in-water impact footprint includes an approximate 90-acre area located on the northwest side of Portal Island 1 and an approximate 92-acre on the southwest side of Portal Island 2.

 Project impacts have been minimized through the implementation of the bored tunnel construction method instead of the original immersed tube design. The applicant is not proposing compensation for aquatic habitat impacts because they suggest that there will be a net increase in surface area to support epibenthic organisms and an expected increase in localized secondary productivity. 

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, and a permit for the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.  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 signed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) on July 31, 2015. They will re-evaluate this document as part of the permit process. (2) There may be an effect to 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). The following federally listed species may be present within the project area: Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus), Kemp’s ridley turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), and North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). FHWA will make its determination of effects to federally listed species and will coordinate with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as needed. (3) In consultation with the Virginia State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), FHWA determined that this project will have an effect on historic resources, but that the effect will not be adverse (Memorandum from the SHPO was dated June 17, 2015). 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:  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: or 

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 on all actions, or proposed actions, permitted, funded, or undertaken by the agency, that may adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH).   The Chesapeake Bay contains Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) for the egg, larvae, juvenile, and/or adult life of life stages of 19 species, including Atlantic butterfish (Perprilus triacanthus), Atlantic sea herring (Clupea harengus), Atlantic sharpnose shark (Rhizopriondon terraenovae), black sea bass (Centropristis striata), bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), clearnose skate (Raja eglanteria), cobia (Rachycentron canadum), dusky shark (Carcharhinus obscurus), king mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla), little skate (Leucoraja erinacea), red drum (Sciaenops occelatus), red hake (Urophycis chuss), sand tiger shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus), scup (Stenotomus chrysops), Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus maculatus), summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus), windowpane flounder (Scophthalmus aquosus), and winter skate (Leucoraja ocellata).The habitat which this project would affect consists of  rock/reef areas and sandy subaqueous bottom. The proposed project is described in Proposed Work and Purpose, above. As the lead federal agency, FHWA will consult with NOAA to determine the project’s effects on EFH. Based on comments from the National Marine Fisheries Service in response to this public notice, further EFH consultation may be necessary. 

COMMENT PERIOD:  Comments on this project should be in writing and can be sent by either email to or by regular mail, addressed to the Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers (ATTN:  CENAO-WR-R), George Janek, 803 Front Street, Norfolk, Virginia  23510-1011, and should be received by the close of business on February 17, 2017.

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 George Janek at 757-201-7135.