CENAO-WR-R NAO-1994-1166

Published Feb. 3, 2020
Expiration date: 2/20/2020

February 5, 2020
CENAO-WR-R NAO-1994-1166

FEDERAL PUBLIC NOTICE: The District Commander has received a joint application for Federal and State permits as described below (note: This project was originally public noticed from September 24 – October 24, 2019):

APPLICANT: Hampton Roads Connector Partners Joint Venture c/o Jose Martin Dragados USA Inc., 810 7th Avenue Floor 9 New York, New York 10019

WATERWAY AND LOCATION OF THE PROPOSED WORK: The project is located in the lower James River/ Hampton Roads, and in several of its tributaries including Oastes Creek, Mason Creek, and Willoughby Bay. The James River/ Hampton Roads is a tributary to the Chesapeake Bay. The proposed Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel (HRBT) expansion project is located on Interstate 64 (I-64) in the cities of Hampton and Norfolk, between the Settlers Landing Road Interchange in Hampton and I-564 Interchange in Norfolk. The coordinates for the approximate center of the project are latitude 36.990⁰ and longitude -76.310⁰ in Norfolk, Virginia.

PROPOSED WORK AND PURPOSE: In order to relieve congestion at the Interstate 64 Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT) and to improve accessibility, transit, emergency evacuation, and military and goods movement along the primary transportation corridors in the Hampton Roads region, including I-64, I-664, I-564, and the Western Freeway (Virginia Route 164), the Hampton Roads Connector Partners (HRCP) proposes to widen Interstate 64, from Settlers Landing Road in Hampton to the Interstate 564 interchange in Norfolk, to create an eight-lane facility with six consistentuse lanes. The total length of the HRBT expansion is approximately 9.9 miles, and the tunnel segment of the project is approximately 1.8 miles, including the tunnel islands. New bridges will be constructed connecting the tunnels to the Hampton and Norfolk shorelines, and the existing highway from Settlers Landing Road to I-564 will be reconstructed. The expanded interstate will include four general purpose lanes, two new high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, and two new drivable shoulders to be used at HOT lanes during peak usage. The existing bridge-tunnel facility is a four-lane roadway with bridges, trestles, man-made tunnel islands, and tunnels under the main Hampton Roads shipping channel. The proposed project includes the construction of two new two-lane tunnels; expansion of the existing tunnel islands; full replacement of the existing trestle bridges at the HRBT as well as expansion of the Willoughby Bay trestle bridge; sound barrier walls; reconstruction of the existing roadway; new stormwater management features, and dredging of approximately 38.22 acres of subaqueous bottom in Hampton Roads/ James River. This is an increase over the 7.9 acres of dredging that was proposed in the September 24, 2019 public notice. The increase is due to project design changes since the original public notice was posted, including the addition of the North Island shape array (2.08 acres), and is also partly due to the fact that areas that were originally proposed to be dredged and then backfilled for island expansion (approximately 18.54 acres) were not included in the original dredge impact total. Once the project is completed, there will be a total of four tunnels, two new ones and the two existing tunnels; two of the four tunnels will be used for eastbound traffic and two will be used for westbound traffic. A complete bridge replacement is being proposed for the Mallory Street interchange. The two new tunnels will be installed using bored tunnel methods.

The project also includes the construction and maintenance of two outfalls which will discharge treated construction water from the tunnel boring operations and the jet grout and slurry wall construction activities. These discharges into the James River/ Hampton Roads will be authorized by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) through its Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) program. Discharge volumes are expected to be approximately 510,000 gallons per day. The proposed location for each of the outfalls is based on hydraulic modeling of the tidal flow around each of the islands. The greatest flow rates occur on the North Island at the southwest corner of the island, and on the northwest corner of the South Island. These locations are closest to the main channel which contains the greatest volume of flow during the tidal cycles, and the applicant states that these outfall locations will allow for the greatest amount of mixing.

As proposed, the project will permanently impact 19.17 acres of subaqueous bottom (14.81 acres for the North Island expansion, 3.70 acres for the South Island expansion, and 0.65 acres for piles, culverts, and grading throughout the project); 0.49 acres of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV); 21.26 acres of tidal wetlands (0.13 acres estuarine intertidal scrub-shrub (E2SS), 0.17 acres estuarine intertidal emergent (E2EM), 0.92 acres estuarine intertidal unconsolidated shore sand (E2US2), 0.87 acres estuarine intertidal rocky shore rubble (E2RS2), and 19.17 acres estuarine subtidal open water (E1OW). Nontidal wetland impacts total 0.81 acres: 0.12 acres of palustrine forested (PFO), 0.25 acres of palustrine scrub-shrub (PSS), 0.28 acres of palustrine emergent (PEM), and 0.16 acres of palustrine unconsolidated bottom (PUB).

Temporary impacts include 26.42 acres of subaqueous bottom, 0.57 acres of SAV, and 7.78 acres of tidal wetlands and other aquatic resources (0.03 acres estuarine intertidal forested wetlands (E2FO); 0.07 acres estuarine intertidal scrub-shrub wetlands (E2SS), 2.82 acres estuarine intertidal emergent wetlands (E2EM); 0.01 acres estuarine intertidal unconsolidated shore mud (E2US3); 3.30 acres estuarine intertidal unconsolidated shore sand (E2US2); and 1.55 acres estuarine intertidal rocky shore rubble (E2RS2). Changes to temporary impacts are a result of further design refinement. Temporary nontidal impacts total 0.66 acres which includes 0.04 acres of PFO wetlands, 0.04 acres of PSS wetlands, 0.37 acres of PEM wetlands, and 0.21 acres of PUB. Project construction will also result in the permanent conversion of 0.01 acres of PFO to PEM wetlands for a permanent drainage easement. Additionally, the project will result in permanent shading impacts to 0.12 acres of nontidal wetlands (0.11 acres PSS and 0.01 acres PEM) and 2.55 acres of tidal wetlands (0.48 acres SAV), 0.06 acres E2SS, and 2.01 acres E2EM). Permanent shading impacts will be caused by the roadway trestles.

The temporary subaqueous bottom impacts are primarily due to the trestle deck areas extending over the Hampton Roads river bottom, plus 20-foot work areas around the trestles and fills, and 40-foot work areas in Oastes and Mason Creeks for potential pile rehabilitation. HRCP proposes to compensate for permanent impacts to nontidal wetlands, tidal wetlands, SAV, and subaqueous bottom through the purchase of credits from approved mitigation banks and in-lieu fee funds.

Aquatic resource impacts have been minimized through the use of pile-supported trestles, shifting the limits of disturbance (LOD) in several locations to avoid wetland impacts, reducing fill slopes where possible, and by using the bored tunnel approach instead of the immersed tube tunnel construction method. The applicant’s use of the bored tunnel versus an immersed tube tunnel will considerably reduce navigation impacts and subaqueous impacts to the Hampton Roads/ James River bottom.

The bored tunnel construction avoids approximately 60 acres of dredging that would have been required if the immersed tunnel tube construction was used. Through tunnel island and roadway design, island expansion footprints were reduced from 20 acres to approximately 18.52 acres For the landward roadway improvements, moving the construction limits closer to the existing road avoided impacts to 0.34 acres of nontidal wetlands and 0.31 acres of tidal wetlands.

In addition to the required Department of the Army permit, the applicant must obtain a Virginia Water Protection Permit/401 certification from the DEQ assuring that applicable laws and regulations pertaining to water quality are not violated and a permit from the Norfolk and Hampton Wetlands Boards. 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 impacts 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, 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: (1) A Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Hampton Roads Crossing Study was signed on April 25, 2017, and an Environmental Assessment Re-evaluation was completed and signed on June 7, 2018; and (2) after conducting the preliminary Norfolk District Endangered Species Act (ESA) Project Review Process, the following listed/proposed/candidate species and/or designated/proposed critical habitat under the ESA of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544, 87 Stat. 884), as amended) may be affected: Northern long-eared bat, Northeastern beach tiger beetle, fin whale, North Atlantic right whale, piping plover, red knot, Atlantic sturgeon, shortnose sturgeon, Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, loggerhead sea turtle, leatherback sea turtle, and green sea turtle. Based on this “may effect” determination, the Official Species List and Species Conclusion Table is attached is attached for review and comment by Fish and Wildlife Service. Additional information may change these findings.

Multiple cultural resource investigations have been conducted in support of the HRBT expansion project in order to comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and its implementing regulations at 36 CFR Part 800. The previous cultural resources studies have identified 20 historic properties within the HRBT project’s Area of Potential Effect. Consultation conducted by Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) under Section 106 with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDHR), which serves as the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), resulted in a finding of No Adverse Effect for the HRBT Expansion Project through the 2017 execution of a Programmatic Agreement. The Programmatic Agreement requires VDOT to meet specific design commitments for the avoidance of adverse effects, complete efforts to identify archaeological sites eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) within the Area of Potential Effect (APE) for the project, and to assess effects on identified historic properties. VDOT is continuing to participate in ongoing coordination with VDHR regarding the Programmatic Agreement.

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). The applicant submitted their consistency certification to DEQ on August 8, 2019. Proof of DEQ’s concurrence must be submitted to the Corps prior to final permit issuance. 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 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). Hampton Roads/ James River contains Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) for various life stages of 11 species including dusky shark, butterfish, windowpane flounder, bluefish, black sea bass, summer flounder, red drum, sandbar shark, cobia, king mackerel, and Atlantic Spanish mackerel. The habitat which this project would affect consists of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), tidal wetlands, shallow water, rocky subtidal areas, and sandy subaqueous bottom. The proposed project is described in Proposed Work and Purpose, above. As part of the north and south tunnel island expansion, this project will result in the conversion of 14.22 acres of subaqueous bottom to uplands. There will also be temporary turbidity due to the mechanical dredging of approximately 38.22 acres, temporary impacts to the benthic communities within the project area, and possible effects from pile driving activities. These impacts may be mitigated through the use of dredging and pile driving best management practices (BMPs) and through compensation measures including the purchase of wetland credits and in-lieu fee fund credits for unavoidable impacts to wetlands, subaqueous bottom, and SAV. Our assessment of the project leads us to a preliminary determination that it may have a substantial adverse effect on EFH and therefore expanded EFH consultation may be required. Our rationale for this preliminary determination is based on the amount of subaqueous bottom impacts as well as impact to tidal wetlands and SAV. 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 either by email to george.a.janek@usace.army.mil or by regular mail, addressed to Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers, (ATTN: CENAO-WR-R, George Janek), 803 Front Street, Norfolk, Virginia 23510-1011. Written comments must be received by the close of business on February 20, 2020.

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 (Corps of Engineers) at 757-201-7135.

 Attachment: Drawings