FEDERAL PUBLIC NOTICE
The District Commander has received a joint application for Federal and State permits as described below:
APPLICANT Bizzack Construction, LLC
3009 Atkinson Ave., Suite 200
Lexington, KY 40509
WATERWAY AND LOCATION OF THE PROPOSED WORK: The project is located in Poplar Creek and Unnamed Tributary, Joe Branch, Belcher Branch and Unnamed Tributary, and Convict Hollow (Left Fork of Bull Creek) and Unnamed Tributary, all tributaries to Poplar Creek, a tributary to Upper Levisa Fork (05070202), in the Big Sandy River basin, near Pearly in Buchanan County, Virginia. The project will extend from the east end of US460/121 Hawks Nest Section (Section IIA of Rt. 121), near State Route 614, to State Route 604 (Poplar Creek Road).
PROPOSED WORK AND PURPOSE: The applicant proposes to construct Section IIIB-Phase A of US Highway 121, which overlaps Corridor Q, and will be dual designated as US 460/121. The project involves construction of approximately 2.8 miles of two-lane rural principal arterial highway on new alignment, with truck climbing lanes at some locations. As proposed, the highway will cross Poplar Creek with a box culvert over which will be placed excavated material from elsewhere on the project. A connection will be provided at Rt. 604. The project as proposed involves permanent impacts to waters of the US as follows: Poplar Creek, 2,380 linear feet of perennial stream; Belcher Branch, 530 lf of perennial stream; Convict Hollow, 100 lf of perennial stream; Joe Branch, 520 lf perennial stream; Unnamed Tributary to Poplar Creek, 1,160 linear feet of intermittent channel; 0.22 acres of emergent wetlands and 0.23 acres of open water.
The applicant states that avoidance and minimization measures have been employed to reduce impacts to jurisdictional waters of the U.S. for the proposed U.S. 460/121 Poplar Creek Phase A project. These measures include: (1) locating the proposed roadway in a near ridgetop position, (2) reducing the typical roadway section from 4 lanes to 2 lanes with truck climbing lanes, (3) designing Roadway Embankment No. 3 with a sagging curve along the top of the embankment, (4) placing excess fill material in Waste Areas 2A and 8 in an upland location. The applicant also provides their opinion that combining approximately half of the excess fill material into one large embankment
fill over a box culvert in Poplar Creek minimizes impacts when compared to several smaller fills in other channels.
To mitigate for unavoidable impacts to streams and wetlands, the applicant proposes to conduct two stream restoration projects at off-site locations in Buchanan County. Both sites are in the Upper Levisa Fork River watershed (HUC 05070202). In addition, on-site restoration is proposed to compensate for the stream impacts at Convict Hollow, 190 lf of the stream impacts at Belcher Branch, and the emergent wetland impacts.
In addition to the required Department of the Army permit, the applicant must obtain a Virginia Water Protection Permit from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) assuring that applicable laws and regulations pertaining to water quality are not violated. Selected 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.
Preliminary review indicates that: The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is the lead Federal agency. FHWA completed an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for
US 121 (Coalfields Expressway) in 2001, an Environmental Studies document for
Section IIIB in 2014, and a Re-Evaluation of IIIB/Phase A in January 2017. FHWA indicated by a letter to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) in April 2017 that a Supplemental EIS would not be necessary for Rt. 460/121 Section IIIB, Phase A. (l) the Corps of Engineers is currently reviewing information to determine whether the Corps will adopt the FHWA EIS and prepare a Supplemental EIS for the currently proposed project (Rt. 460/121 Section IIIB, Phase A) or prepare an Environmental Assessment; (2) after conducting the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) Online Project Review Process, the applicant received a list of four Endangered species [Gray Bat (Myotis grisescens), Indiana Bat (M. sodalis), Virginia Big-eared Bat (Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus), and Big Sandy Crayfish (Cambarus callainus)] and one Threatened species [Northern Long-eared Bat (M. septentrionalis)] under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544, 87 Stat. 884, as amended) that should be considered in an effects analysis for the project. These same species were identified by the FWS IPAC system for the two proposed off-site mitigation sites. The 2017 FHWA Re-Evaluation for this project states that detailed presence/absence bat surveys will be conducted prior to any construction activities. No formal Big Sandy crayfish surveys or detailed habitat assessments have been conducted, but will be performed prior to construction, according to the Re-Evaluation. The document states that a preliminary determination of "may affect’ is indicated for all five listed species, and that further consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service will be undertaken by FHWA when species surveys are conducted; and (3) on behalf of FHWA, VDOT coordinated in January 2017 with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDHR) regarding potential effects of the Section IIIB, Phase A project in order to reaffirm a determination of no effect on historic properties. A revised survey was conducted for eight architectural resources, and VDOT recommended that none of the properties were eligible for inclusion or included in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), or would likely be affected by the proposal. A 2008 survey identified no archaeological sites within the FHWA Area of Potential Effect, but a new survey identified one potential site that VDOT recommended as not eligible for the NRHP. VDHR concurred with the determination of no effect in February 2017. Additional information might change any of these findings.
COMMENT PERIOD: Comments on this project should be in writing and can be sent by either email to email@example.com, or by regular mail, addressed to the Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers (ATTN: CENAO-WR-R), 803 Front Street, Norfolk, Virginia 23510-1011, and should be received by the close of business on September 6, 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
Alice W. Allen-Grimes at 757-201-7219.