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 Department of Transportation (FDOT) – District 7
11201 N. McKinley Drive
Tampa, Florida 33612
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with Cypress Creek and Cabbage Swamp. The project site is located at the Interstate 75 and State Road 56 interchange, in Sections 26 and 27, Township 26 South, Range 19 East, in Pasco County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: The project is located at the Interstate 75 and State Road 56 Interchange. From Interstate 275, take the State Road 56 exit. From Interstate 4, take Interstate 75 north approximately 12 miles to the State Road 56 exit.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES:
Latitude: 28.192147 °
Longitude: - 82.384255 °
Basic: Linear transportation.
Overall: The overall project purpose is to construct roadway improvements at the I-75 and State Road 56 interchange in southern Pasco County, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: SR 56 is an urban principal arterial on the National Highway System (NHS). SR 56 is designated as a Strategic Intermodal System (SIS) facility from Begin Project (MP 1.049) to MP 1.656. This project is within the Pasco County urban area boundary. The wetland systems consist of freshwater forested systems. The onsite vegetation consists of American elm (Ulmus Americana), water oak (Quercus nigra), sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), cypress trees (Taxodium sp.), red maple (Acer rubrum), sabal palm (Sabal palmetto), slash pine (Pinus elliottii) longleaf pine (Pinus palustris), wax myrtle (Myerica cerifera), Carolina willow (Salix caroliniana), saltbush (Baccharis hamlifolia), Peruvian primrose willow (Ludwigia peruviana), arrowhead (Sagitarria lancifolia), pickerelweed (Pontedereia cordata), soft rush (Juncus effusus), various other rushes (Juncus spp.), alligator flag (Thalia geniculate) and Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius). The existing area surrounding the project area consists of interstate and associated ramps, natural wetlands and uplands and increasing commercial and residential development.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge fill material into 2.88 acres to waters of the United States (wetlands) to reconfigure the current interchange at Interstate 75 and State Road 56 from a standard diamond interchange to a diverging diamond interchange (DDI). The intent of the project is to maintain all construction within the existing right of way. No widening of the bridge over I-75 is proposed.
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:
The proposed project has been designed to avoid and minimize wetland and other surface water impacts to the greatest extent practicable. The proposed interchange improvements will result in approximately 2.88 acres of forested wetland impacts. All impacts will be within the existing FDOT right of way. Walls are being provided along the ramps, as opposed to grassed/vegetated side slopes, to minimize impacts to wetlands and avoid potential acquisition of additional right of way. This also allows for all construction to be conducted within the existing right of way.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The FDOT intends to mitigate for 2.88 acres of forested wetland impacts by the use of 1.61 units of forested credits from Connor Preserve as part of the FDOT Mitigation Program with Southwest Florida Water Management District.
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. The FDOT indicated that a Categorical Exclusion was completed for the project in October 2014, and it was determined that no Section 106 resources would be impacted by the proposed improvements. The project is located within the existing FDOT right of way.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The project is located within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) Consultation Areas for Wood stork (Mycteria americana), Eastern Indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi), and Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens)
Wood Stork: This species typically inhabits freshwater and brackish wetlands, primarily nesting in cypress and mangrove swamps. They can be found foraging in shallow water in freshwater marshes, wet prairies, narrow tidal creeks, and flooded tidal pools, as well as roadside ditches and pasturelands. The proposed project is within the buffer of nine wood stork nesting colonies, however, the proposed project would impact 2.88 acres of forested wetlands and do not provide ideal suitable foraging habitat for the wood stork. All construction is proposed for inside the FDOT’s existing ROW of a heavily trafficked interchange surrounded by commercial and residential development and doesn’t support nesting and foraging functions that would exceed 0.5 acre. Therefore, based upon review of the Wood Stork Key for South Florida, dated May 18, 2010, the proposed project resulted in the following sequential determination: A > B > C = “not likely to adversely affect” the wood stork. Given the above information, the Corps has determined that the proposed project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the wood stork.
Eastern indigo snake: Potential impacts to the Eastern indigo snake were evaluated using The Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key, January 2010 and revised August 2013. The Corps has programmatic concurrence with the sequential determination of A > B > C > NLAA pursuant to the Key. This determination is based on the applicant implementing the Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake and there are no gopher tortoise burrows, holes, cavities, or other refugia where a snake could be buried or trapped and injured during project activities.
Florida scrub jay: The proposed project falls within the USFWS consultation area for the Florida scrub-jay. This species typically inhabits fire-dominated, low-growing, oak scrub habitat found on well-drained sandy soils and may persist in areas with sparser oaks or scrub areas that are overgrown. No appropriate habitat for the species exists near the project area, and none were observed during listed species surveys or other field work conducted by the applicant’s consultant. Additionally, the project abuts the existing I-75 and heavily trafficked SR 56 interchange surrounded by commercial and residential development and doesn’t support scrub jay habitat. Therefore, the Corps has determined that the proposed project would have no effect on this species.
The Corps has determined the proposal would have no effect on any other listed threatened or endangered species or designated critical habitat.
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 unnamed wetlands. 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 through the Panama City Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232 within 15 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, Mr. Randy Turner, in writing at the Jacksonville Permits Section, Post Office Box 4970, Jacksonville, Florida 32232, by electronic mail at Randy.L.Turner@usace.army.mil, by fax at (904) 232-1904, or by telephone at (904) 232-1670.
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.