SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the Boulder City Bypass Phase II project, which would result in permanent impacts to approximately 5.01 of permanent and 3.12 acres of temporary impacts, of waters of the United States including wetlands, in or adjacent to Lake Mead/Colorado River. This notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed activity and to solicit comments. This notice may also be viewed at the Corps web site at www.spk.usace.army.mil/Media/RegulatoryPublicNotices.aspx.
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: Regional Transportation Commission, 600 South Grand Central Parkway, Suite 350, Las Vegas, Nevada 89106
LOCATION: The 12-mile site is located on 12 ephemeral tributaries of the Lake Mead/Colorado River, Sections 25, 35, and 36 of Township 22 South, Range 64 East, Sections 2, 11, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29, and 30 of Township 23 South, Range 64 East, and Sections 11, 12, 13, 14, and 24 of Township 23 South, Range 63 East, Mount Diablo Meridian, Latitude 35.97201°, Longitude 114.84083°, Boulder City, Clark County, Nevada, and can be seen on the NV-BOULDER BEACH USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to continue the Boulder City Bypass project, which began with Phase 1 with a continuous four-lane controlled access freeway. The alignment begins at the Foothills Drive grade separation, crosses under the existing railroad, and continues just south to Silverline Road, for a project length of approximately 2.50 miles. The west end of Phase 2 will tie into the Nevada interchange which was completed in October of 2010 as part of the FHWA Hoover Dam Bypass Project. Phase 2 will run around the south and east sides of Boulder City. As the alignment moves northeast towards Lake Mead, it will crest the Eldorado Mountains and then descend down through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area to the Nevada interchange. The overall Phase 2 project length is approximately 12.5 miles. The northeastern 1.5 miles of the project area are located within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. The major elements of the project include: a four-lane access controlled freeway; freeway rights-of-way obtained from the City of Boulder City, National Park Service and Western Area Power Administration; a new interchange at US-95; a reconfigured Nevada Interchange on US-93 connecting to the Hoover Dam Bypass; nine highway bridges crossing roadways and washes; a wildlife overcrossing drainage culvert to maintain historic drainage patterns across the Project within traditional drainage ways; a scenic view parking area in the El Dorado Mountains; a truck climbing lane from the Nevada Interchange to the crest of the El Dorado Mountains; landscaping and aesthetic features including re-vegetation; relocation of electrical power transmission lines; and environmental mitigation as outlined in the FEIS/ROD as well as in permits and third-party agreements.
Based on the available information, the overall project purpose is to alleviate congestion in Boulder City, reduce traffic accidents within the transportation corridor and to provide regional mobility. The applicant believes there is a need to improve capacity and level of service at the Railroad Pass Intersection, US 93/US 95 Intersection, US 93 Strip Commercial Segment, and US 93 through Hemenway Wash. In addition, there are numerous roadway deficiencies throughout the existing corridor including a broad range of design speeds, roadway sections and geometry. The attached drawings provide additional project details.
Environmental Setting. There are approximately 5.0 acres of jurisdictional ephemeral washes that are tributary to the Colorado River within the project area. The predominant vegetation community is the Mohave Creosote Bush scrub with a mixture of creosote bush (Larrea tridentate) and white bursage (Ambrosia dumosa) with some other species such as including silver cholla (Cylindroputia echinocarpa), pencil cholla (Cylindropuntis ramossissima), cheesebush (Hymenoclea salsola), winterfat (Krascheninnikovia lanata), Nevada ephedra (Ephedra nevadensis) and broom snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae). No wetlands exist in the project area. Precipitation in the general area is relatively low with annual rainfall of 5.17 inches at Boulder City. Rainfall occurs in every month with the highest averages in January, February, March, July and August.
Alternatives. The applicant has provided information concerning project alternatives.
Four alternatives were evaluated in detail in the FEIS including:
- Alternative A: No-Build; This would consist of leaving the existing roadway facilities along U.S. 93 through Boulder City and the current projected traffic congestion, traffic circulation and safety problems would not be addressed.
- Alternative B: Improvements to Existing US-93 alignment; This Alternative would include widening of the existing U.S. 93 within Boulder City. It would include a new four-lane divided highway beginning from the Foothills grade separation, crossing under the existing at-grade railroad crossing, and continuing just south of the existing at-grade railroad crossing, and continuing south of the existing highway to a new diamond interchange near the Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino.
- Alternative C: New Through-Town Alignment; this alternative would consist of a new through-town freeway connecting the western and eastern study limits of the project. It would consist of a continuous four-lane, controlled-access freeway parallel to existing U.S. 93. The alignment begins at the Foothills grade separation, crosses under the existing at-grade railroad crossing, and continues just south of the existing highway to a new diamond interchange near the Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino.
More information regarding alternatives for this project may be found at: https://www.nevadadot.com/uploadedFiles/NDOT/Micro-Sites/BoulderCityBypass/chapter-02.pdf. 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 restore areas along the Kodachrome Wash as mitigation for the project impacts.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection is required for this project. The applicant has not indicated they have applied for certification.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: A Programmatic Agreement was entered into by Federal Highway Administration, Nevada State Historic Preservation Officer, Nevada Department of Transportation, National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Western Area Power Administration and the Bureau of Land Management for the Boulder City/U.S. 93 Corridor Highway on July 22, 2003. The Corps will coordinate with the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office and request an amendment to the Programmatic Agreement to include any actions authorized under Section 404 of the CWA.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The proposed activity may affect Federally-listed endangered or threatened species or their critical habitat. The Applicant, through Federal Highway Administration, has submitted a Biological Assessment from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Corps will coordinate with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to request that any actions authorized under Section 404 of the CWA be included in the Biological Opinion.
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-2013-01028-SG must be submitted to the office listed below on or before December 1, 2014.
Patricia McQueary, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
St. George Field Office
196 East Tabernacle Street Room 30
St. George, Utah 84770
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 Patricia Mcqueary, 435-986-3979, Patricia.L.McQueary@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 27 drawings