NAO-2012-00080 / 13-V0408 Skiffes Creek Section 106 NHPA Effects

Published May 21, 2015
Expiration date: 6/20/2015

May 21, 2015
NAO-2012-00080 / 13-V0408

The District Commander continues to review a joint application for federal permit consideration as generally described below:

Dominion Virginia Power
Courtney Fisher
701 E. Cary Street; 12th Floor
Richmond, Virginia 23219

LOCATION OF THE PROPOSED WORK:  The proposed project will take place in the Counties of Surry, James City, and York including the Cities of Newport News and Hampton.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION:  Dominion proposes the construction of 7.4-miles of new 500kV overhead transmission line from Surry to a proposed Skiffes Creek 500kV-230kV-115kV switching station in James City County, followed by upgrades to 20.2 miles of 230kV overhead transmission line easement that connects with the existing Whealton substation in Hampton, VA.  The proposed James River crossing will require the construction of 17 towers and fender protection systems resulting in 2,712 square feet of direct impacts to subaqueous bottom. The proposed land based impacts will occur from the replacement of 22 tower structures resulting in 220 square feet of structural discharge in non-tidal wetlands.   A permit is required from the Norfolk District Corps of Engineers under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899.

Additional information specific to the proposed project can be found at .  Our website also contains links to the applicant’s and consulting party websites, which contain additional project information and perspectives on the project.

Alternatives: Many comments have been received regarding alternatives.  Information on project alternatives, including alternative routes was provided via our public notice dated November 13, 2015.  Further information on this subject is available on the project website listed above.

PURPOSE OF PUBLIC NOTICE:  The Corps of Engineers is soliciting comments from the public; Federal, state, and local agencies and officials; Native American Tribes; and other interested parties including Consulting Parties, in compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).  With this public notice we are requesting comments to assist in evaluation of the effects of the undertaking on historic properties and evaluation of alternatives or modifications which could avoid, minimize or mitigate adverse effects of the undertaking.

INITIATION OF SECTION 106 OF NHPA AND HISTORIC PROPERTY IDENTIFICATION:   The proposed project constitutes a Federal undertaking subject to compliance with Section 106 of the NHPA which requires Federal agencies to take into account the effects of their actions, including permitted actions, on historic properties.

In accordance with the requirements of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Section 106, USACE solicited public comments on the undertaking via public notice on August 28, 2013 and November 13, 2014.  These comments helped to facilitate the initial steps of Section 106 review process, including historic property identification.   Identification of historic properties within the APE involved reevaluation of previously recorded resources (resources documented in VDHR’s database, Virginia Cultural Resource Information System (VCRIS), documentation of unrecorded resources (resources identified by additional surveys), and archeological survey within the impact area for the entire corridor.  The findings are documented in several reports prepared by Stantec Consulting Services, Inc.   A list of these reports, along with a description of the potentially affected historic properties, including information on the characteristics that qualify them for the National Register, is attached to this notice. In addition, meetings with the consulting parties were held on September 25, 2014 and December 9, 2014.  Comments received were considered in reviewing historic property identification efforts conducted by Dominion’s consultant and in determining eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places (National Register). 

Necessary steps to identify historic properties and corresponding determinations of eligibility for the National Register within the Area of Potential Effect (APE) were completed May 11, 2015. 

EFFECT DETERMINATION:  In consultation with the SHPO, and in consideration of views concerning effects provided by the consulting parties and the public, the USACE has applied the criteria of adverse effect to historic properties within the APE.  USACE has concluded “No Effect” for archaeological resources that will be avoided and where no ground disturbance is proposed, as well as those architectural resources that will not be visible to the undertaking based on Dominion’s visual effect assessments. (See Attachment:  Final List of Historic Properties and Potential Effects). 

Based on an assessment of all other identified historic resources, USACE has determined that the undertaking will have an overall adverse effect.  USACE is consulting further to develop and evaluate alternatives or modifications to the undertaking that could avoid, minimize, or mitigate adverse effects on historic properties.  General effects on historic properties per segment include:

Surry – Skiffes Creek 500 kV Line Segment: This portion of the project primarily involves the construction of a single circuit overhead line requiring the placement of 17 towers and 4 fender protection systems within the James River.  Dominion proposes to avoid direct effects to all underwater archaeological resources identified, as tower construction is proposed outside of established buffers surrounding these resources.  The proposed river crossing will adversely affect Jamestown Island – Hog Island Cultural Landscape through direct placement of towers within the landscape.  The proposed river crossing will also adversely affect Carters Grove (National Historic Landmark), Colonial National Historic Parkway, Hog Island Wildlife Management Area, and a portion of Jamestown Island (Black Point) as a result of impacts to the surrounding view sheds.   The proposed transmission line and towers may also introduce elements that diminish the integrity of the other architectural properties’ significant historic features and may change physical features within the properties’ settings.

Switching Station Site: Dominion’s proposed switching station will destroy portions of archeological site 44JC0662 resulting in an adverse effect.

Skiffes Creek – Whealton 230 kV Line Segment:  This portion of the project involves tower replacements at varying heights or simply stringing transmission cable onto existing towers.  The proposed upgrades will occur within an existing overhead power line easement and therefore will not alter the visual characteristics of the surrounding area from current conditions.  Dominion proposes to avoid impacts to archaeological sites by replacing towers in their same location and utilizing timber matting during construction to protect areas from ground disturbing activity.  Impacts within this segment of the project are not likely to be adverse. 

Overland Construction Access Points throughout the Corridor:  All construction access will be from existing roads where possible.  Timber mats will be used in wetlands, and upland areas may be matted or top-dressed with gravel to provide a stable, non-erodible driving surface as necessary.  No ground disturbing activities are required for construction access. 

We will continue to work with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and consulting parties to better define the effects specific to individual historic properties and explore options to avoid, minimize, and/or mitigate effects.  It is our duty to balance the electrical reliability benefits of this project against any foreseen detrimental impacts to our region’s natural and cultural resources and reach a permit decision based on a weighing of the public interest factors and 404(b)(1) Guidelines.  We are committed to working closely with Dominion and all involved parties to move deliberately and expeditiously through the steps necessary for a fully informed and balanced decision. 

COMMENT PERIOD:  Comments specific to effects on historic properties identified within the APE and recommendations to resolve adverse effects should be received by the close of business on June 20, 2015.  Submissions can be made in writing, addressed to the Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers (ATTN:  CENAO-WRR-S, Randy Steffey), 803 Front Street, Norfolk, Virginia  23510-1096 or via email at .

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 concerning this public notice, please contact Randy Steffey at 757-201-7579 or .


Attachments:  Location Map
Project Impact Drawings
Area Potential Effect Exhibits
Final List of Historic Properties and Potential Effects
Description of Historic Properties
Dominion’s Visual Effect Reports