Comments Period: June 13, 2017 – July 13, 2017
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District (Corps), is evaluating a permit application to construct the Dry Creek Passing Lane project, which would result in temporary impacts to approximately 0.96 acre and permanent impacts to approximately 2.33 acres of waters of the United States (3.29 acres total), including wetlands, in and adjacent to Dry Creek. 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: Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT),
Attn: Mr. Tony Cady,
Region 5 Planning/Environmental Manager,
3803 North Main Avenue,
Durango, Colorado 81301
LOCATION: The approximately 34.9-acre project site is located on US Highway 160 approximately 15 miles east of Durango between Mile Posts 96.98 and 98.57, Latitude 37.224°, Longitude -107.678°, La Plata County, Colorado, and can be seen on the CO-BAYFIELD USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to construct new passing lanes within a 1.6 mile stretch of US Highway 160 and relocate the intersection of US Highway 160 and La Plata County Road (CR) 223 to the west. Specifically, the project involves the widening of US 160 to accommodate the new passing lanes, and the construction of two new bridges over Dry Creek which incorporate wildlife-crossings. In addition, the project involves realigning approximately 1,400 feet of Dry Creek and the construction of a berm along the south side of the realigned CR 223 to divert flows from Holman Canyon to Dry Creek. Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to improve the conditions for the traveling public along US 160. The applicant believes there is a need to increase travel efficiency/capacity to meet current and future needs, improve safety for the traveling public, and control access.
As proposed, the project would impact approximately 2.33 acres of wetland with the majority of impacts being associated with the widening of US Highway 160 and relocating the US Highway 160/CR 223 intersection. Temporary impacts are anticipated during road widening and installation of the wildlife fencing. Overall, approximately 0.96 acre of wetland would be temporarily impacted during construction. This includes 0.39 acre for road widening and 0.57 acre for installation of the wildlife fencing. The attached drawings provide additional project details.
Project Details. Road Widening: The project as proposed includes the widening of U.S. Highway 160 and relocating the US Highway 160/CR 223 intersection. Impacts to waters of the US include the removal of wetland topsoil and excavation down to the subgrade and building back up with suitable backfill material to the appropriate grades. The wetland topsoil would be used during the realignment of Dry Creek. Once the fill reaches the proper elevation, CDOT would pave the road with five inches of Hot Mix Asphalt. Permanent impacts associated with widening US Highway 160 and moving the US Highway 160/CR 223 intersection include 2.1 acres of waters of the US.
Dry Creek Realignment: The project involves the realignment of approximately 1,400 feet of Dry Creek to allow for a free flowing channel through the project area and establish a wetland fringe within the channel bottom. The majority of Dry Creek within the project area would be impacted during road construction. The realigned channel would allow for perpendicular crossings of CR 223 and US Highway 160 to limit scouring. Permanent impacts from the Dry Creek Realignment include 0.17 acre of Wetland 22-2A and 0.05 acre of
Dry Creek north of US Highway 160 (Wetland 22-1).
Holman Canyon Berm: Flows from Holman Canyon would be diverted to Dry Creek using the Holman Canyon Berm. Hydraulic models indicate that the channel only flows during 100-year storm events and the capacity of the realigned Dry Creek channel is adequate to handle the flows. The berm would be constructed parallel to the realigned CR 223 and would permanently impact approximately 0.02 acre along the northern boundary of Wetland 22-2A. The berm would create a channel to direct flow from Holman Canyon to Dry Creek.
Wildlife Fencing: The project includes approximately 157 posts for the wildlife fence to be installed within wetland areas. Each post is 6 inches in diameter with an area of 0.2 square feet. Overall, there will be approximately 0.57 acre of temporary impact and 31.4 square feet of permanent impact to waters of the US from the installation of the fence posts.
Environmental Setting. There are approximately 15.96 acres of emergent and scrub/shrub wetlands within the 34.9-acre project site, which includes 1.3 acres of Dry Creek and 0.89 acre of the Thompson-Epperson Ditch within the project area. The aquatic resources at the site are characterized by fringe wetlands associated with Dry Creek, irrigated and/or sub-irrigated wetlands in the valley bottom, and fringe and seep wetlands near irrigation ditches.
Alternatives. In 2006, CDOT completed a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for road improvements to US 160 from Durango to Bayfield, Colorado, which included the proposed project. The FEIS analyzed on-site and off-site alternative locations and designs. In addition, CDOT has further assessed alternative designs and has provided information concerning project alternatives. These alternatives include, but are not limited to, the construction of retaining walls, reinforced slopes, and curb and gutter. Additional information concerning project alternatives may be available from the applicant or their agent. 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. The applicant has proposed to compensate for impacts to waters of the US through a combination of on-site permittee responsible mitigation, permittee responsible off-site mitigation, and purchasing mitigation credit from an approved mitigation bank. A final mitigation plan has not yet been submitted.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is required for this project. The applicant has indicated they have applied for certification.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: The Corps will initiate consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as appropriate.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps will initiate consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, as appropriate.
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 the applicant 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-2002-75568-DC must be submitted to the office listed below on or before July 13, 2017.
Kara Hellige, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
1970 E. 3rd Ave, #109
Durango, Colorado 81301
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 Kara Hellige, (970) 259-1604, Kara.A.Hellige@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 4 drawings