TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The Jacksonville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has received an application for a Department of the Army permit pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. §1344) as described below:
APPLICANT: Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise
Mr. Martin Horwitz
P.O. Box 613069
Ocoee, Florida 34761
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters associated with the Lake Worth Drainage District (LWDD) E-2E Canal, the LWDD E-2W Canal, and the LWDD L-14 Canal, which ultimately flow to the Atlantic Ocean. The project is located along an approximate 7.3-mile segment of Florida’s Turnpike, from Boynton Beach Boulevard to Lake Worth Road., in Sections 20, 29, and 32;Township 44 South, Range 42 East; and Sections 5, 8, 17, and 20; Township 45 South; Range 42 East, Boynton Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: Travel to Florida’s Turnpike from FL-804 W/W Boynton Beach Boulevard. The project begins just north of FL-804 and continues north for approximately 7.3 miles to just north of FL-802 at the West Palm Beach Service Plaza.
Basic: The basic project purpose is linear transportation.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to improve the existing roadway and travel conditions through addition of travel lanes and modifications to All Electronic Tolling, in order to meet the growing traffic and capacity demands within the central eastern corridor of Palm Beach County.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The information provided by the applicant indicates that the existing site conditions consist of a four-lane (Lantana Toll Plaza to north of Lake Worth Road) and a six-lane (Boynton Beach Boulevard to Lantana Toll Plaza) divided highway, toll plazas, and LWDD Canals. The canals include the LWDD E-2E Canal, LWDD E-2W Canal, and the LWDD L-14 Canal. The LWDD E-2E and E-2W Canals run north/south adjacent to the Turnpike, and the LWDD L-14 Canal runs east/west and is located south of Lake Worth Road. The LWDD Canals are steep maintained slopes (1:1.5). Residential and commercial development exists in all directions of the roadway.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge dredged and/or fill material into waters of the United States associated with roadway improvements. The project would include widening this segment of Florida’s Turnpike from four/six lanes to eight lanes, and removing existing toll plazas and replacing with an All Electronic Tolling System. The typical section would consist of one express lane and three general tolled lanes in each direction. The project realigns the Turnpike’s centerline to the west to prevent the proposed improvements from encroaching into the Florida Gas Transmission (FGT) facility to the east. The shift to the west would result in encroachment and surface water fill into LWDD’s E-2W Canal to reestablish and provide armoring of the canal’s non-maintenance berm, in order to accommodate the widening of this segment of Florida’s Turnpike. The LWDD E-2W Canal currently exceeds its permitted design section and is within Turnpike’s right of way in several locations along this segment due to the erosion of the canal banks. The canal’s design non-maintenance berm bank would be restored within the Turnpike’s right of way by constructing bulkhead walls within the existing LWDD E-2W Canal, which would also accommodate the roadway widening. The bulkhead walls would be installed along approximately 23,000 feet (4.3 miles) within the east side of the LWDD E-2W Canal, resulting in the permanent discharge of fill material into 7.85 acres of the LWDD E-2W Canal. Also, northeast of the Lake Worth Road Interchange, the LWDD E-2E Canal is located outside of its permitted design section as a result of the original construction. Canal maintenance at this location would involve realignment of the LWDD E-2E Canal to be within its permitted design section which would also accommodate noise walls associated with the roadway widening project, resulting in the permanent discharge of fill material into 0.53 acre of the LWDD E-2E Canal, which would be offset through the establishment of the realigned section. The work within the LWDD E-2W and LWDD E-2E Canal would not reduce the design surface water profile of the canal segments. Also, the LWDD L-14 Canal within the roadway right of way would be modified to a culverted cross section, resulting in the permanent discharge fill material into 0.16 acre of the LWDD L-14 Canal.
AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION INFORMATION – The applicant has provided the following information in support of efforts to avoid and/or minimize impacts to the aquatic environment: Best management practices would be implemented during construction in order to contain any potential discharge of sedimentation or turbidity. Also construction guidelines would be adhered to in regard to the Eastern Indigo snake and the West Indian manatee. The work within the LWDD E-2W and LWDD E-2E Canal would not reduce the design surface water profile of the canal segments, and the work within the LWDD L-14 Canal is the minimal that would enable the roadway widening work to be performed.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has provided the following explanation why compensatory mitigation should not be required: Compensatory mitigation is not proposed, as wetlands are not proposed to be filled and the canal segments where the bulkhead walls would be installed would not reduce the canal design surface water profile.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is not aware of any known historic properties within the permit area. By copy of this public notice, the Corps is providing information for review. Our final determination relative to historic resource impacts is subject to review by and coordination with the State Historic Preservation Officer and those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Eastern Indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi), wood stork (Mycteria americana), and West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus). Additionally, the Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on the Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) and Everglade snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus).
Eastern Indigo Snake: The proposed project is located within the geographic range of the Eastern Indigo snake. The applicant has indicated that there are no gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) burrows present within the proposed project limits. However, as a measure to avoid and minimize potential impacts to Eastern Indigo snakes, the applicant would be required to adhere to the USFWS Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake. Additionally, the Corps reviewed the USFWS Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key (2013), and use of the key resulted in the sequential determination of A > B > C = not likely to adversely affect the Eastern Indigo snake. Based on the above information, the Corps has determined that the project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Eastern Indigo snake.
Wood Stork: The project site is located within the core foraging area (CFA) (within 18.6 miles) of three active breeding colonies (619220 PBC SWA, 619315, and Loxahatchee 1). However, the canals do not exhibit the features which provide suitable foraging habitat for this species, as the canal banks are steep (1:1.5), and the depths are greater than what is considered suitable for the wood stork (suitable habitat ranges from 2 to 15 inches deep). Using the project site information, the Corps reviewed the Wood Stork Key for South Florida Programmatic Concurrence (2010). Use of the key resulted in the following sequential determination: A > B = not likely to adversely affect the wood stork. Based on the above information, the Corps has determined that the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the wood stork.
West Indian Manatee: There is a water control structure between the estuarine waters and the proposed project site. Additionally, the surface waters between the estuarine waters and the proposed project site have varied depths and other blockages. However, there is a slight potential that this species may access the project site. Therefore, the project would require adherence to the FWS Standard Manatee Conditions for In-Water Work. The Corps reviewed the Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, and the State of Florida Effect Determination Key for the Manatee in Florida, April 2013. The key resulted in the following sequential determination: A > B > C > G > N > O > P > may affect, not likely to adversely affect the West Indian manatee. Based on the key, no consultation with the Service is necessary.
Florida Scrub Jay: The proposed project is within the USFWS consultation area of Florida scrub jay. The Florida scrub jay has extremely specific habitat requirements. It is endemic to peninsular Florida’s ancient dune ecosystem or scrubs, which occur on well drained to excessively well drained sandy soils. Relict oak-dominated scrub, or xeric oak scrub, is essential habitat to the Florida scrub jay. Optimal habitat incorporates four species of stunted, low growing oaks [sand live oak (Quercus geminata), Chapman oak (Quercus chapmanii), myrtle oak (Quercus myrtifolia), and scrub oak (Quercus inopina)] that are 1-3 meters high, interspersed with 10 to 50 percent non-vegetated sandy openings, with a sand pine (Pinus clausa) canopy of less than 20 percent. The proposed project site does not contain suitable habitat for this species. In consideration of the lack of appropriate habitat within the proposed project area, the Corps has determined that the project would have no effect on this species.
Everglade Snail Kite: The project limits are within the USFWS consultation area of the Everglade snail kite. However, the project site does not contain large open freshwater marshes or lakes, or vegetation that is suitable for this species. Therefore, based on this information, the Corps has determined that the proposed project would have no effect on the Everglade snail kite. Additionally, on 14 March 2017, the Corps initiated formal consultation with the USFWS in regard to the Florida bonneted bat and included a no effect determination for the Everglade snail kite. The USFWS did not object to the Corps no effect determination for this species.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): This notice initiates consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service on EFH as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act 1996. Our initial determination is that the proposed action would not have a substantial adverse impact on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the receiving waters of the Lake Worth Lagoon. Our final determination relative to project impacts and the need for mitigation measures is subject to review by and coordination with the National Marine Fisheries Service.
NOTE: This public notice is being issued based on information furnished by the applicant. This information has not been verified or evaluated to ensure compliance with laws and regulation governing the regulatory program. The jurisdictional line has not been verified by Corps personnel.
AUTHORIZATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES: Water Quality Certification may be required from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and/or one of the state Water Management Districts.
COMMENTS regarding the potential authorization of the work proposed should be submitted in writing to the attention of the District Engineer at the Palm Beach Gardens Office, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410-6557 within 21 days from the date of this notice.
The decision whether to issue or deny this permit application will be based on the information received from this public notice and the evaluation of the probable impact to the associated wetlands. This is based on an analysis of the applicant's avoidance and minimization efforts for the project, as well as the compensatory mitigation proposed.
QUESTIONS concerning this application should be directed to the project manager, Mrs. Tarrie Ostrofsky, in writing at the Palm Beach Gardens Office, 4400 PGA Boulevard, Suite 500, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410-6557, by electronic mail at Tarrie.L.Ostrofsky@usace.army.mil, by fax at (561) 626-6971, or by telephone at (561) 472-3519.
IMPACT ON NATURAL RESOURCES: Coordination with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Marine Fisheries Services, and other Federal, State, and local agencies, environmental groups, and concerned citizens generally yields pertinent environmental information that is instrumental in determining the impact the proposed action will have on the natural resources of the area.
EVALUATION: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefits, which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the proposal will be considered including cumulative impacts thereof; among these are conservation, economics, esthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historical 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, considerations of property ownership, and in general, the needs and welfare of the people. Evaluation of the impact of the activity on the public interest will also include application of the guidelines promulgated by the Administrator, EPA, under authority of Section 404(b) of the Clean Water Act or the criteria established under authority of Section 102(a) of the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972. A permit will be granted unless its issuance is found to be contrary to the public interest.
The US Army Corps of Engineers (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 determination, comments are used to assess impacts to endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.
COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT CONSISTENCY: In Florida, the State approval constitutes compliance with the approved Coastal Zone Management Plan. In Puerto Rico, a Coastal Zone Management Consistency Concurrence is required from the Puerto Rico Planning Board. In the Virgin Islands, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources permit constitutes compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Plan.
REQUEST FOR PUBLIC HEARING: Any person may request a public hearing. The request must be submitted in writing to the District Engineer within the designated comment period of the notice and must state the specific reasons for requesting the public hearing.