Comments Period: June 22, 2017 – July 7, 2017
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the State Route 269 Bridge (EA# 06-39460) project, which would result in impacts to approximately 17.9 acres of the Arroyo Pasajero, a water of the United States. 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: California Department of Transportation,
Attn: Mr. Neil Bretz,
2015 East Shields, Suite 100,
Fresno, California 93726
LOCATION: The approximately 133-acre project site is located on and adjacent to the Arroyo Pasajero at the State Route (SR) 269 crossing, Latitude 36.234597°, Longitude -120.103687°, near the town of Huron, Fresno County, California.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to replace the existing SR 269 crossing of the Arroyo Pasajero with a 500' long concrete bridge and to widen and deepen 6,000 feet of the channel, from an average cross-sectional area of 325 square feet to 2,000 square feet. A 2-lane and 28’ wide, temporary detour road would be constructed parallel to the existing SR 269 to accommodate traffic during construction. The detour road will be removed once construction is complete. As proposed, the project would fill 4.8 acres of the Arroyo Pasajero and would excavate 9.5 acres to construct the new channel. Additionally, 3.6 acres of existing creek channel downstream of the project area would be cut-off from the new channel and de-watered. Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to improve the SR 269 crossing. The applicant believes there is a need to eliminate closures of SR 269 due to flood flows. The attached drawings provide additional project details.
Environmental Setting. There are approximately 14.3 acres of the Arroyo Pasajero within the project area. Other than Arroyo Pasajero channel, with a few cottonwood and tamarisk trees on the bank, the 133-acre project site is characterized by agricultural fields that are currently fallow.
Alternatives. The applicant has not provided information concerning project alternatives. 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 offset any adverse effects of the project by expanding the stream channel within the project area from 14.3 to 30.8 acres and by planting replacement cottonwood and tamarisks trees on the banks of the new channel.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the California Regional Water Quality Control Board is required for this project. The applicant has indicated they have applied for certification.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Based on the available information, no cultural resources were identified within the project's area of potential effect.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The proposed activity may affect Federally-listed endangered or threatened species or their critical habitat, including San Joaquin woolly threads, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, giant and Tipton kangaroo rats, and San Joaquin kit fox. California Department of Transportation has completed consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, and received a letter of concurrence that the project is unlikely to adversely affect Federally-listed species.
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-2016-00284 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before July 7, 2017.
William Ness, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
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 William Ness, (916) 557-5268, William.W.Ness@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 4 drawings