Comments Period: June 21 2016 – July 21 2016
SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the Placer Parkway Phase 1 Improvement Project, which would result in the discharge of fill material into approximately 2.63 acres of waters of the United States (WOUS), including wetlands. 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 WOUS.
APPLICANT: Placer County Community Resource Agency, Attn: Mr. Richard Moorehead, 3901 County Center Drive, Suite 220, Auburn, California 95603
AGENT: Madrone Ecological Consulting, LLC, Attn: Ms. Sarah VonderOhe, 2617 K Street, Suite 175, Sacramento, California 95816, email@example.com, (916) 822-3230
LOCATION: The approximately 96-acre project site is located between Sunset Boulevard and Twelve Bridges Drive, in Section 24, Township 13 North, Range 5 East, Mount Diablo Meridian, Latitude 38.96227°, Longitude -121.35987°, City of Rocklin, Placer County, California (Figures 1 & 2), and can be seen on the CA-ROSEVILLE USGS Topographic Quadrangle.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant is proposing to make improvements to the State Route (SR) 65/Whitney Ranch Parkway/Placer Parkway interchange to create a standard L-9 interchange (Figure 3). Auxiliary lanes would be required on SR 65 in both directions between SR 65/Whitney Ranch Parkway/Placer Parkway interchange and the SR 65/Sunset Boulevard interchange to enhance traffic operations. Between Twelve Bridges and Placer Parkway/Whitney Ranch Parkway, the Project includes 1,000-foot northbound and 1,300-foot southbound auxiliary lanes. The Project would include a grade separated overcrossing of Industrial Boulevard and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and an at-grade intersection at Foothills Boulevard (Figure 4). A preliminary assessment of drainage flow indicates that minimum of 12 pipe culverts ranging in size from 18” to 48” would be needed to pass drainage under the road prism, one 30” pipe culvert near the intersection with Foothills Boulevard North would be extended to the east, a 6’ by 5’ box culvert would be installed west of the southbound off-ramp and would be extended east of the northbound on-ramp. Installation of pipe culverts and a box culvert would impact WOUS and may include associated energy dissipation structures such rip-rap. Bioswales would also be constructed. All areas needed for contractor access and construction staging would occur within the project boundary and include material laydown and storage, stockpiling, and equipment storage. The right-of-way area acquired for the project would accommodate an ultimate six-lane Parkway. Construction is planned to being in spring 2018 and may take approximately two years to complete.
Based on the available information, activities in WOUS, including wetlands, would result in the permanent loss of 1.07 acre of wetland swale, 0.97 acre of vernal pool, 0.37 acre of drainage ditch, 0.17 acre of wetland, and 0.05 acre of intermittent stream (Attachment A-1). The proposed activities may also result in indirect and secondary effects to non-filled WOUS adjacent to project construction.
The applicant’s stated project purpose is to is to upgrade the current SR 65/Whitney Ranch interchange to an L-9 interchange at SR 65, provide an alternative connection to Foothills Boulevard North, in order to relieve congestion along SR 65 at Sunset Boulevard and Twelve Bridges Drive and along Industrial Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, and to promote access to jobs and improve movement of goods and people. The applicant believes there is a need for the proposed project based on continued growth in the area. The Corps has not made a final determination on the overall project purpose. The attached drawings provide additional project details.
Environmental Setting. There are approximately 2.87 acres of wetlands within the study area, comprised of 1.16 acre of vernal pool, 1.28 acre of wetland swale, 0.21 acre of wetland, 0.02 acre of intermittent stream, and 0.20 acre of drainage ditch. The site is situated within the Auburn Ravine watershed, with the northern portion of the site draining into the Sacramento River, and southern portion of the site draining into Pleasant Grove Creek. The north and south portions of the site are virtually flat with several small ephemeral drainages that flow east to west. The middle portion of the site between the proposed interchange and the north end of the site is located on a wide, gradually-sloping (~2.5%) valley, formed by and centered on an existing ephemeral east-west drainage. Habitat at the site consists of annual grassland, including non-native grasses. Vegetation consists of ryegrass (Lolium sp.), barley (Hordeum sp.), ripgut brome (Bromus diandrus), thistles (Cirsium sp.), and filaree (Erodium sp.). Characteristic animal species include western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta), red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), killdeer (Charadrius vociferous), western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis), voles (Microtus sp.), deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus), and coyote (Canis latrans), among other wildlife.
Alternatives. The applicant has provided information concerning project alternatives. 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. Staging areas were modified during project design to avoid impacts to WOUS whenever possible. Proposed installation of biofiltration strips and swales would provide permanent treatment of stormwater runoff and would be designed to decrease the velocity of stormwater discharge from the site. Side slopes would be graded to blend with the natural terrain and promote sheet flow to vegetated areas. If the applicant is unable to avoid or minimize all impacts, the Corps may require compensatory mitigation. The applicant has proposed to purchase mitigation credits at a Corps approved mitigation bank for the unavoidable loss of WOUS, including wetlands. They have proposed a minimum compensation ratio of 1:1 (1 acre of other waters habitat credits for every 1 acre of permanent impact) to ensure no net loss of aquatic resource habitat function and value.
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: No cultural resources were identified within the project's area of potential effect. The California Department of Transportation (CalTrans), as the lead Federal agency, has indicated they have initiated consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as appropriate.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The proposed activity is likely to adversely affect the federally threatened vernal pool fairy shrimp (Branchinecta lynchi) and the federally endangered vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi). Project activities would directly and indirectly affect approximately 2 acres of vernal pool fairy shrimp and vernal pool tadpole shrimp habitat. CalTrans, as the lead Federal agency, has indicated they have initiated 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 site does not contain Essential Fish Habitat (EFH); therefore, activities in WOUS would not affect 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-2015-00513 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before July 22, 2016.
Leah M. Fisher, Sr. Regulatory Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers
1325 J Street, Room 1350
Sacramento, California 95814-2922
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' regulatory project manager Leah M. Fisher at 916-557-6639 or Leah.M.Fisher@usace.army.mil.
Figure 1 – Project Vicinity
Figure 2 – Project Location
Figure 3 – Placer Parkway Phase 1 Improvement Project
Figure 4 – Placer Parkway Phase 1 Improvement Project, Project Cross Sections
Attachment A-1 – Project Plan View Showing Impacts to Waters of the U.S.