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SAJ-2011-00551 (SP-TSH)

Posted: 9/25/2018

Expiration date: 10/24/2018


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) and as described below:

CO-APPLICANTS:  Pasco County Board of County Commissioners
                                37918 Meridian Avenue
                                Dade City, FL 33525

                                and

                                Florida Department of Transportation
                                Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise
                                Post Office Box 613069
                                Ocoee, FL 34761

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Pithlachascotee River, Anclote River, and Fivemile Creek. The project would commence at the intersection of Ridge Road and Decubellis / Moon Lake Road (County Road 587) and end at the intersection of Land O’Lakes Boulevard (U.S. Highway 41) and Connerton Boulevard in Pasco County, Florida, Sections 25-29, 32, and 33 of Township 25 South, Range 17 East, and Sections 21, 22, and 27-30, Township 25 South, Range 18 East. The western portion of the proposed project would traverse the Serenova Tract of the Starkey Wilderness Preserve.

Directions to the site are as follows:

Western limits (project start): From the intersection of US Highway 19 (US-19) and Ridge Road, in Port Richey, travel approximately 5.7 miles east along Ridge Road to its eastern terminus. The proposed project would extend Ridge Road eastward from this location.

Eastern limits (project end): From the intersection of State Road 54 (SR-54) and Land O’Lakes Boulevard (US-41), travel north on Land O’Lakes Boulevard approximately 7.3 miles to Connerton Boulevard. The Ridge Road extension would intersect Land O’Lakes Boulevard opposite (west) of Connerton Boulevard.

APPROXIMATE COORDINATES:

 

 

 

Eastern (start)

Intersection with Suncoast Parkway

Western (end)

Latitude

28.273340° North

28.282217° North

28.288769° North

Longitude

82.625251° West

82.550395° West

82.488336° West

PROJECT PURPOSE:

Basic: To construct a roadway.

Overall: To improve east-west roadway capacity and enhance overall mobility within the area bound by SR-52 to the north, SR-54 to the south, US-41 to the east, and Moon Lake Road, DeCubellis Road, Starkey Boulevard to the west. Also, to provide additional roadway capacity and improved routing away from coastal hazard areas and improve evacuation times in the event of a hurricane, or other major weather-related occurrence, in accordance with State of Florida requirements and the County’s current Comprehensive Plan.

EXISTING CONDITIONS: The proposed road alignment would be located approximately mid-way between SR-52, to the north, and SR-54, to the south. There is an existing overpass where the Ridge Road Extension would intersect the Suncoast Parkway. The proposed road would pass through a range of habitats including mixed wetland hardwoods, cypress, wetland forested mixed, wetland scrub, freshwater marsh, wet prairie, pine plantation, and cattle pasture. The western half of the project, Phase I, would traverse the Serenova Tract of the Starkey Wilderness Preserve (exhibit attached).

PROPOSED WORK: The applicants seek authorization to discharge fill material over 40.16 acres of wetlands for the construction of 8.65 miles of roadway that would extend Ridge Road eastward to Land O’Lakes Boulevard. Wetland impacts would include 37.38 acres of permanent impact and 2.78 acres of temporary impacts. The project is known as the Ridge Road Extension (RRE). The project consists of three segments that include Phase I, an interchange with the Suncoast Parkway, and Phase II. Phase I would be located west of the Suncoast Parkway interchange and would consist of a 4-lane divided roadway that is approximately 4.2 miles in length. The proposed roadway would intersect the Suncoast Parkway approximately 3.2 miles south of SR-52 at an existing overpass. A full diamond interchange and approximately 1 mile of 4-lane divided roadway would be constructed within the limits of the interchange. Phase II would be located east of the Suncoast Parkway interchange and would consist of 4-lane divided roadway that is 3.44 miles in length. An additional 2.78 acres of wetlands/waters are proposed to be temporarily filled/impacted to facilitate construction of the roadway, including bridges. Temporary fill material and/or temporary structures, such as drain pipes, coffer dams, etc., would be removed upon completion of construction and the area would be returned to pre-construction contours and hydrologic conditions. Best management practices, such as underlying temporary fill with geotextile, would be incorporated to minimize impacts and ensure clean removal of temporary fill material.

Previous iterations of this project proposed Phase II as a limited access roadway, allowing only one access point to a commercial parcel located on the east side of the interchange. The applicants now propose to design Phase II as an arterial roadway that would allow as many as seven (7) signalized intersections (also referred to as “full movement intersections”) between the Suncoast Parkway and Land O’Lakes Boulevard (US-41). This public notice is being published primarily due to this change in status of Phase II. The precise number and location of potential intersections is not yet known and the applicants are not seeking authorization for any impacts to waters of the United States that may be associated with these potential intersections or associated developments. Pasco County has stated that developers would be responsible for obtaining authorizations for any impacts to waters of the United States beyond those currently proposed for construction of the Ridge Road Extension.

Note: The proposed Ridge Road Extension was previously noticed by the Corps on November 28, 2011. Additional information, including the Alternatives Analysis previously submitted to the Corps, is available on the Corps’ website at the following address: http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Items-of-Interest/ . Once the webpage loads, please scroll down the page to the “Ridge Road Extension” section and click on the links to the individual documents.

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:

Per the 2011 public notice the project proposed a total of 59.41 acres of wetland impacts that included 56.63 acres of direct impacts and 2.78 acres of temporary impacts. These impacts were broken down as follows:

Wetland Impacts - 2011 Public Notice (acres)

 

Direct

Temporary

Totals

Phase I & II

44.81

2.78

47.59

Interchange

11.82

0

11.82

Totals

56.63

2.78

59.41


Modified Alternative 7 (Mod 7) incorporates many new and significant minimization measures for the two Pasco County proposed segments of the RRE. Mod 7 does not change any aspects of the Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise (FTE) segment of the project, the interchange of RRE with the Suncoast Parkway, as described in the 2011 public notice. The horizontal alignment for all of Mod 7 remains unchanged from that shown in the 2011 public notice.

Under Mod 7, Phase I incorporates the lengthening of three bridges that were in the 2011 public notice and the addition of 12 new bridges over wetlands that greatly reduce the permanent wetland fill impacts. The lengthened bridges include the two at W-10 (Pithlachascotee River) and one at W-15 (unnamed). An added benefit of the bridges is greatly reduced encroachment within the floodplains. The following table summarizes the location and length of bridges over wetlands within Phase I of the project.

           Phase I Summary of Bridges

Description

Approximate Station Range

Over Wetland

Begin

End

(Westbound) 870' Bridge

 

                  118+02

 

              126+72

 

 

W10

(Eastbound) 980' Bridge

 

                  117+03

 

              126+83

(Westbound) 180' Bridge

153+43

155+23

 

 

W11

(Eastbound) 450' Bridge

152+43

156+92

(Westbound) 685' Bridge

160+23

167+09

 

 

W12

(Eastbound) 685' Bridge

160+08

166+92

(Westbound) 180' Bridge

179+91

181+70

 

 

W13

(Eastbound) 155' Bridge

181+15

182+70

(Westbound) 530' Bridge

182+80

188+10

 

 

W13

(Eastbound) 350' Bridge

184+95

188+45

(Westbound) 230' Bridge

216+15

218+45

 

 

W15

(Eastbound) 480' Bridge

214+43

219+23

(Westbound) 485' Bridge

222+17

226+98

 

 

W16

(Eastbound) 210' Bridge

224+84

226+94

Four additional upland wildlife crossings were incorporated into the Phase I segment of the project for a total of six. The crossing locations and sizes were coordinated with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The addition of the bridges and wildlife crossings necessitated substantial revisions to the vertical alignment of the Phase I segment of the project. The applicant took advantage of the revised vertical alignment to incorporate additional segments of vertical wall to replace fill slopes and further reduce wetland impacts.

Within Phase II, minor changes to the vertical alignment were made to accommodate the addition of two upland wildlife crossings and size modification of two others at locations coordinated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Additional segments of vertical wall were incorporated into Phase II to minimize impacts to wetlands and reduce floodplain encroachment.

The Wetland Minimization Summary table, provided as a separate attachment with this narrative, summarizes the location and type of minimization techniques utilized on the project. This includes all the bridges over wetlands as well as the specific locations of vertical walls used to reduce fill impacts within wetlands.

Avoidance and minimization opportunities for the interchange segment of the project were limited since the alignment of the proposed roadway through the interchange is fixed by the location of the existing overpass bridge on the Suncoast Parkway. Avoidance and minimization measures employed at the proposed interchange location include the use of 2:1 side slopes and limiting clearing and grubbing activities to areas necessary for construction.

After incorporation of the minimization techniques described above, the proposed project has 37.38 acres of unavoidable direct impacts to waters of the United States. That is a reduction of 19.25 acres since the 2011 public notice. A summary of the direct impact acreage is as follows:

 

2018 Summary Direct Wetland Impacts

 

2011 Direct

2018 Direct

Reduction

Phase I

20.74

7.33

13.41

Phase II

24.07

18.33

5.74

Interchange

11.82

11.72

0.10*

Totals

56.63

37.38

19.25

 *Reduction in wetland impacts within the interchange segment result from a minor revision to jurisdictional limits based on the 2017 PJD compared to the limits used for the 2011 public notice.

The proposed change of access classification for RRE Phase II from limited access as proposed by Mod 7 to arterial will not change the computed wetland impacts associated with the project. With RRE Phase II classified as an arterial the entity desiring to connect to Phase II will be responsible for obtaining all necessary local, state and federal environmental permits associated with the access connection and adjacent development. That entity would also be responsible for any compensating mitigation required by those permits.

COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:

Pasco County proposes to provide compensatory mitigation to offset all unavoidable impacts to wetlands within Phases 1 and 2 through the purchase of Mitigation Credits from the Old Florida Mitigation Bank.

For the Florida Turnpike Enterprise (FTE) segment of the project, the 2011 public notice featured three options for compensatory mitigation: preservation of the Cone Borrow Pit, excess mitigation from the Suncoast Parkway or the purchase of credits from the Conner Tract. FTE now proposes to provide compensatory mitigation via one of two options. The first option is per FTE’s Draft COE Mitigation Plan dated March 13, 2018 that proposes the use of the available unused 5% wetland impact contingency and surplus federal mitigation credits from the original permit for the Suncoast Parkway Project 1 – Ridge Road Interchange (199604305 [IP- MN]). FTE’s mitigation plan is currently under review by the Corps. If the Corps does not accept the submitted Draft Mitigation Plan, FTE’s second option is the purchase of mitigation credits from the Old Florida Mitigation Bank. If the Corps accepts the Draft Mitigation Plan in whole or part but the accepted credits are insufficient to offset all of the unavoidable impacts the FTE would purchase any additional credits needed from the mitigation bank.

CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Corps is aware of historic property/properties within or in close proximity of the permit area. The Corps has previously completed consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office and those federally recognized tribes with concerns in Florida and the Permit Area, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation as applicable pursuant to 33 CFR 325, Appendix C and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. Based on the previous consultations, the Corps does not expect historic properties to be affected by the proposed project.

Agency Reference:
FL DHR file number 2012-1341
STOF-THPO file number 0029424

ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has determined the proposed project may affect the threatened Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi) and the threatened Florida scrub jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) and may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect, the Wood stork (Mycteria Americana). The Corps will request initiation of formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act by separate letter and may rely, in part, on previous consultations completed for this project, if deemed appropriate by the Service and the Corps.

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 have no effect on EFH or Federally managed fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. 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 been approved by the Corps through a preliminary jurisdictional determination.

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 Pensacola Permits Section, 41 North Jefferson Street, Suite 301, Pensacola, Florida, 32502 within 30 days from the date of this notice. Comments may also be submitted directly to the Corps via e-mail at RRE-comments@usace.army.mil . Please be advised that comments submitted in response to the Corps’ 2011 public notice for this project will be considered in its evaluation and re-submittal of those previous comments is not mandatory.

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, Shayne Hayes, in writing at the Pensacola Permits Section, 41 North Jefferson Street, Suite 301, Pensacola, Florida, 32502; by electronic mail at terry.s.hayes@usace.army.mil; by facsimile transmission at (850) 433-8160; or, by telephone at (850)433-8859.

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.

Jacksonville District Pasco County permit public notice U.S. Army Corps of Engineers USACE