Comments Period: December 27, 2018 – January 28, 2019
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the State Route 70 Corridor Improvement (EA 03-3F280) project, which would result in impacts to approximately 1.49 acres of waters of the United States, including wetlands, adjacent to the highway, which is located to the east of the Feather River. This notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed activity and to solicit comments.
AUTHORITY: This application is being evaluated under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 for structures or work in or affecting navigable waters of the United States and/or 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. Winder Bajwa, 703 B Street, Marysville, California 95901
LOCATION: The approximately 239.7-acre project site is located on State Route 70, south of Oroville, California, from approximate Latitude 39.471°, Longitude -121.576° to Latitude 39.430°, Longitude -121.605°, Butte County, California, and can be seen on the Palermo USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to widen State Route 70 from approximately Palermo Road to just north of Ophir Road. The highway would be widened to the west and the existing slope conditions on the east side would be maintained. Existing pavement would be overlaid and a new pavement section would be constructed for the southbound lanes. The proposed widening would generally stay within the existing right-of-way (ROW). The geometric cross-section would be designed to Freeway/Expressway Standards, and would include four 12-foot lanes, 8-foot outside shoulders, and a 14-foot paved median. The side slopes would be 4:1 or flatter where feasible, and 2:1 or flatter where ROW acquisitions need to be minimized. Before the Ophir Road/Pacific Heights Road intersection, the highway would be widened into a hill where 2:1 cut slopes would be used to accommodate the wider highway cross-sectional geometrics. A biofiltration strip would be placed just north of the retaining wall or steep slope to avoid the addition of runoff and contaminants from entering wetlands. Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to widen the existing highway to address safety concerns and provide continuous passing opportunities. The applicant believes there is a need to provide greater reliability and efficiencies for connectivity between Oroville and Marysville. The attached drawings provide additional project details.
Environmental Setting. There are approximately 3.3 acres of vernal pools and vernal swales and approximately 1.21 acres of seasonal wetlands within the project area. The site is relatively level, with elevations ranging from approximately 105 to 225 feet above mean sea level. Land uses in the project area and the surrounding area are primarily agricultural, with some areas of residential, industrial, and commercial properties. Dingerville, a small golf course located just north of Palermo Road, is the only recreational use along the project area. The project is adjacent to the driveway access for the Oroville Wildlife Preservation area located to the west.
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 purchase mitigation bank and in-lieu-fee credits for impacts to waters of the U.S.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Central Valley 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 (including applicant's report titled State Route 70 Corridor Improvements Project Historical Resources Evaluation Report, October 2017), 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. The California Department of Transportation formally consulted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, and received a biological opinion, 08ESMF00-2018-F-0997-1, dated September 26, 2018.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT: The proposed project would not 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-2018-00115 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before January 28, 2019.
Marc A. Fugler
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Enforcement/Special Projects Branch
1325 J Street, Room 1350
Sacramento, California 95814
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 Marc Fugler, (916) 557-5255, Marc.A.Fugler@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 8 drawings