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Under the Corps' Regulatory Program, a public notice is the primary method for advising all interested parties of a proposed activity for which a permit is sought. Soliciting comments and information necessary to evaluate the probable impacts on the public interest. Public notices are also published to inform the public about new or proposed regulations, policies, guidance or permit procedures.

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SPK-2011-01010, Fresno County, CA

Posted: 12/17/2013

Expiration date: 2/2/2014


CESPK-RD-N

SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), Sacramento District, is evaluating a permit application from the State of California, Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to realign and widen State Route 180 (SR 180) to a four-lane divided expressway, which would result in the loss of approximately 5.54 acres of wetlands and 1.81 acres of other waterbodies, for a total loss of 7.353 acres. This notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed activity and to solicit comments. 
AUTHORITY: This application is being evaluated under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the discharge of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States.

APPLICANT: State of California
Department of Transportation, District 6
ATTN: Mr. Neil Bretz
855 M Street, Suite 200
Fresno, California 93721

AGENT: State of California
Department of Transportation, District 6
ATTN: Ms. Dena Gonzalez
855 M Street, Suite 200
Fresno, California 93721

LOCATION: The 337-acre site is located near the communities of Centerville and Minkler, east of the City of Fresno, from 0.7 mile west of Smith Avenue to 0.7 mile east of Frankwood Avenue in Sections 5-11 and 14, Township 14 South, Range 23 East, Mount Diablo Meridian, Latitude 36.7275982299381°, Longitude -119.474022371827°, Fresno County, California, and can be seen on the CA-WAHTOKE USGS Topographic Quadrangle.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Caltrans is proposing to discharge fill into wetlands and waters of the U.S. during construction of Segment 3 of a four-lane expressway project. The proposed 4.5 mile segment would connect with the previously constructed Kings Canyon Expressway, Segment 2, west of Smith Avenue. The proposed linear project would require acquisition of new SR 180 right-of-way and the abandonment of some existing right-of-way. Approximately 5.54 acres of wetlands, adjacent to or abutting other waters of the U.S., are proposed to be filled as a result of the proposed linear project. Approximately 1.81 acres of waters of the U.S. would be filled in order to construct new crossings associated with the alignment of the proposed linear project. New crossings would be constructed over the Kings River, Byrd Slough, Cameron Slough, China Slough, Collins Creek, Centerville-Kingsburg Canal, Carmelita Canal and Mount Campbell Canal. A brief description of the construction activities proposed at each water crossing is listed below:

Kings River: There is an existing 3-span concrete bridge at this location which would remain in place and utilized for east bound traffic. To accommodate west bound traffic, Caltrans is proposing to construct a similar bridge about 50 ft to the north of the existing bridge. The new west bound bridge would be a 3-span, cast-in-place, post-tensioned concrete box girder bridge. The bridge span length would be 95 ft – 128 ft – 95 ft, for a total length of 318 ft and a width of 42 ft. There would be four foundation locations, two abutments and two piers. The foundations would be on spread footings (no piles) and require excavations. The size of each excavated abutment would be approximately 12 ft x 50 ft x 6 ft deep. The size of each pier excavation would be approximately 12 ft x 45 ft x 15 ft deep. It is expected that the contractor would use coffer dams to construct the pier foundations in the river channel. These cofferdams would require seal course concrete and/or dewatering. Excavated material would be used to backfill around the completed piers and abutments. Remaining excavated material would likely be used elsewhere on the project where fill material is needed. The box girder would be constructed on temporary falsework. The falsework would require temporary piling to be driven in the river channel to support the concrete construction. All falsework, including any driven support piles, would be removed.

Byrd Slough: Caltrans is proposing to construct two new bridge structures at this location, identical in length, but not width. Both would be 3-span cast-in-place, post-tensioned voided concrete slab structures. Their span lengths would be 48.5 ft – 63 ft – 48.5 ft, for a total length of 160 ft. The left (west bound) bridge would be 42 ft wide and the right (east bound) bridge would be 79 ft wide. The foundations would be on spread footings (no piles) and require excavations. Excavations at the left bridge abutments would be about 12 ft x 46 ft, and about 4 ft deep and excavations at the right bridge abutments would be about 12 ft x 83 ft, and about 4 ft deep. Each bridge would have two piers. The left bridge pier would consist of three separate columns, each column supported on its own 9 ft x 9 ft footing. The right bridge pier would consist of five separate columns, each column supported on its own 9 ft x 9 ft footing. It is expected that the contractor would utilize either cofferdams or a diversion at this location to construct the pier foundations. Cofferdams around each of the footings (16 total) would be about 10 ft x 10 ft round and about 10 ft deep. A concrete seal course and/or dewatering would be required. It is also conceivable that a single large cofferdam encompassing all of the footings could be constructed. Such a cofferdam would be about 10 ft x 40 ft x 10 ft deep for the left bridge, and about 10 ft x 75 ft x 10 ft deep for the right bridge. Alternatively, the contractor may attempt to divert this channel. The flow is usually small, and could probably be controlled with a check dam and a pipe culvert through the work area. Once diverted, 12 ft x 12 ft x 8 ft deep excavations would be dug for each of the 16 footings and only minor dewatering with small pumps would be required. This location is about ¼ mile downstream from a split of the parent channel and it is possible the contractor may try to divert all of the flow into the other side of the upstream split so that this channel is dry for construction. The abutments would be cast-in-place by building lumber forms, placing steel reinforcement, and pouring concrete into the forms. The cast-in-place slab would be constructed on temporary falsework. The falsework would be partially located in the river channel. It is possible that drive piles would be used for supporting the falsework, but this depends on diversion plans. It would appear most likely that the falsework would be supported on pre-made concrete pads that are placed on ground that has been graded level under the bridge. All falsework including any driven support piles would be removed. Most of the excavated material would be used to backfill around the new abutments and piers. Any remaining material could be incorporated into fills elsewhere within the project.

Cameron Slough: Caltrans is proposing to construct two new bridge structures at this location. Both would be 2-span, cast-in-place, post-tensioned concrete box girder bridges. Their span lengths would be 90 ft – 90 ft, for a total of 180 ft. The left (west bound) bridge would be 42 ft wide, and the right (east bound) bridge would be 44 ft wide. Their foundations would be spread footings (no piles) and require excavations. Excavations at each abutment (2 abutments for each bridge) would be about 12 ft x 48 ft, and about 4 ft deep. Each bridge would have one pier. The pier would consist of three separate columns, each column supported on its own 11 ft x 11 ft footing. The abutments would be cast-in-place by building lumber forms, placing steel reinforcement, and pouring concrete into the forms. It is expected that the contractor would utilize either cofferdams or a water diversion at this location to construct the pier foundations. Cofferdams around each footing (6 total) would be about 12 ft x 12 ft and about 10 ft deep. A concrete seal course and/or dewatering would be required. Alternatively, the contractor may want to divert this channel and a small check dam could be constructed and a pipe culvert used to pass the flow through the work area. Once diverted, 12 ft x 12 ft x 7ft excavations would be dug for each of the 6 footings and only minor dewatering with small pumps would be required. This location is about ¼ mile downstream from a split of the parent channel, so it is possible that the contractor may want to divert all of the flow into the other side of the upstream split so that this channel is dry for construction. The box girder would be constructed on temporary falsework and require temporary piling to be driven in the river channel to support the concrete construction. All falsework including any driven support piles would be removed. Most of the excavated material would be used to backfill around the new abutments, therefore, eliminating any disposal materials.

China Slough: Caltrans is proposing to construct two new bridge structures at this location. Both would be single span, pre-cast, pre-tensioned concrete girder bridges. Their span length would be 90 ft. The left (west bound) bridge would be 49 ft wide, and the right (east bound) bridge would be 53 ft wide. Their foundations would be spread footings (no piles) and require excavations at each abutment (2 abutments for each bridge). Their excavations would be about 12 ft x 60 ft, and about 4 ft deep. Most of the excavated material would be used to backfill around the new abutments, therefore, eliminating any disposal materials. Abutments would be cast-in-place by building lumber forms, placing steel reinforcement, and pouring concrete into the forms. Pre-cast girders would be fabricated off site, then trucked to the job site and erected using a crane. A concrete deck would then be poured. Some sort of formwork would be required to support the wet concrete deck between the girders. This would be either permanent steel deck forms, or conventional lumber forms which would need to be stripped and removed from under the bridge. Dewatering may not be required for this site. There is very little flow, and the abutments would not be located in the channel, so the excavations, if water does seep in, could probably be controlled with sump pumps. Imported fill would not be required because the roadway embankments at the ends of the proposed bridges are about 4 ft deep.

Collins Creek: Caltrans is proposing to construct a 667 ft long, 8 ft x 7 ft., cast-in-place box culvert with wing-walls at this location. The work would require approximately 10,500 sq ft of excavation at the contractor’s discretion. The crossing would take two seasons to complete. In the first season a fully functional culvert would be constructed and a ditch built, connecting to the existing creek. The following season, the culvert would be extended further downstream for the length of the new expressway. Work would be scheduled for when the channel is dry, eliminating the need to dewater.

Centerville Kingsburg Canal: Caltrans is proposing to construct a 742 ft long, cast-in-place, triple box culvert (dimensions 8’x14’x 3box x 742.3’) with warped wing-walls at this location. The work would require roughly 60,000 sq ft of excavation at the contractor’s discretion. Work would be scheduled for when the channel is dry, eliminating the need to dewater.

Carmelita Canal: Caltrans is proposing to construct a 347 ft long, precast, 36” reinforced concrete pipe with headwalls at this location. The work would require approximately 2,500 sq ft of excavation at the contractor’s discretion. Work would be scheduled for when the channel is dry, eliminating the need to dewater.

Mount Campbell Canal: Caltrans is proposing to construct a 428 ft long, precast, double 30” reinforced concrete pipe culvert with steel flared end sections at this location. The work would require approximately 4,400 sq ft of excavation at the contractor’s discretion. Work would be scheduled for when the channel is dry, eliminating the need to dewater.

Work is proposed to begin in May of 2015 and estimated to be completed by August 2018. The entire project is expected to take 870 working days. Most of the work in waters of the U.S. would be completed within the first year, except Collins Creek which would take two construction seasons to complete. The attached drawings provide additional details regarding impacts to wetlands and other waters of the U.S.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

    Purpose. Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to improve continuity, safety, and capacity along SR 180.  Caltrans believes there is a need to improve continuity, safety and capacity along SR 180. 

    Environmental Setting. There are approximately 7 acres of wetlands and 6.7 acres of other waters of the U.S. within the project area.  The Kings River is a “braided” stream with many separate channels (branches) in its floodplain. Several of the different branches of the Kings River within the area have been given separate names: Collins Creek, China Slough, Byrd Slough, Cameron Slough and Kings River Overflow; however, they are still part of the Kings River. These channels support wetland communities of freshwater marsh, dominated by shallow open water habitat with herbaceous wetland plants, and riparian wetlands, dominated by overstory willows, cottonwoods and alders with an understory of blackberry. The canals represent up-stream diversions of water from the Kings River or are adjacent over-flow channels. Most of the land crossed by the proposed project is used for agriculture.

    Alternatives. Caltrans has provided information concerning project alternatives.  Additional information concerning project alternatives may be available from Caltrans.  Other alternatives may develop during the review process for this permit application.  All reasonable project alternatives, in particular those which may be less damaging to the aquatic environment, will be considered.

    Mitigation. The Corps requires that applicants consider and use all reasonable and practical measures to avoid and minimize impacts to aquatic resources.  If the applicant is unable to avoid or minimize all impacts, the Corps may require compensatory mitigation. Caltrans is proposing to mitigate for the loss of waters of the U.S., including wetlands, by constructing permittee responsible compensatory mitigation at an off-site location (TBD) and providing permittee-responsible restoration on-site.

OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: A water quality certification or waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Fresno Branch) is required for this project. Caltrans has indicated they have applied for certification on November 6, 2013.

HISTORIC PROPERTIES: The Federal Highway Administration has initiated consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer and Advisory Council on Historic Preservation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act for this federal-aid transportation project.

ENDANGERED SPECIES: The proposed activity may affect Federally-listed threatened or endangered species. Caltrans, acting as lead Federal agency with Federal Highway Administration’s NEPA assignment, has initiated consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act and has received a Biological Opinion from the Service, dated July 27, 2005, regard the effects of the proposed action on the Federally threatened valley elderberry longhorn beetle, vernal pool fairy shrimp, giant garter snake, and California tiger salamander, as well as the Federally endangered San Joaquin kit fox.

ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT: The proposed project would not adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) as defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. 

The above determinations are based on information provided by Caltrans and our preliminary review.

EVALUATION FACTORS: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts, including cumulative impacts, of the described activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefit, which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the described activity, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the described activity will be considered, including the cumulative effects thereof; among those are conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historic properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain 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 activity's impact on the public interest will include application of the Section 404(b)(1) guidelines promulgated by the Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (40 CFR Part 230).

The Corps 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 impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps 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 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.

SUBMITTING COMMENTS: Written comments, referencing Public Notice SPK-2011-01010 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before February 2, 2014.

Leah M. Fisher, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
1325 J Street, Room 1350
Sacramento, California 95814-2922
Email: Leah.M.Fisher@usace.army.mil

The Corps is particularly interested in receiving comments related to the proposal's probable impacts on the affected aquatic environment and the secondary and cumulative effects. Anyone may request, in writing, that a public hearing be held to consider this application. Requests shall specifically state, with particularity, the reason(s) for holding a public hearing. If the Corps determines that the information received in response to this notice is inadequate for thorough evaluation, a public hearing may be warranted. If a public hearing is warranted, interested parties will be notified of the time, date, and location. Please note that all comment letters received are subject to release to the public through the Freedom of Information Act. If you have questions or need additional information please contact the applicant or the Corps' project manager Leah Fisher, by telephone at 916-557-6639, or email leah.m.fisher@usace.army.mil.

Attachments: 23 drawings