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, District 2
Attn: Mr. Van Humphreys
1109 South Marion Avenue
Lake City, Florida 32025
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Waccasassa River. The project site is located at the intersection of CR-339 and SR-500 in north central Levy County in Sections 34 and 35, Township 11 South, Range 16 East and Sections 2 and 3, Township 12 South, Range 16 East, west of Gainesville, Levy County, Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: From downtown Jacksonville take I-10 West approximately 18 miles and take Exit 343 and go south on US-301 for approximately 58 miles to Waldo. At Waldo make a slight right onto SR-24 toward Gainesville and go approximately 13 miles. Turn right onto NE SR-24/East University Ave and go approximately 1.7 miles and turn left onto South West 13th Street/SR-24 for approximately 0.7 mile and make a slight right onto SR-24 and go approximately 23 miles and then turn right onto US-27/SR 500 for approximately 3.2 miles to the start of project at the intersection of CR-339 and SR-500.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude 29.478065 °
Basic: Linear transportation.
Overall: The overall project purpose is construction of a new roadway alignment and removal of an existing structurally deficient bridge that will no longer be required with the new roadway alignment at the intersection of CR 339 and SR 500 in north central Levy County.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: Bridge No. 340049 carries CR 339 over the Waccasassa River approximately 750 feet north of the existing intersection of CR 339 and State Road (SR) 500. Recent studies indicated that the bridge is structurally deficient and that the average crash rate near the intersection was high, earning it a place on the FDOT High Crash Intersections List. FDOT completed a Project Development and Environment (PD&E) study in early 2018, including a Natural Resources Evaluation (NRE) report. Since then, plans to address the deficient bridge and the dangerous intersection have been finalized, and consist of removing the bridge and a section of CR 339, relocating the intersection approximately 1,800 feet west of its current location, and realigning CR 339. The realigned portion of CR 339 does not cross the Waccasassa River and therefore does not require a bridge.
The 1999 FDOT Florida Land Use, Cover and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS) was used to classify and describe land cover and use within the project area. Several types of wetlands, surface waters, and uplands occur within the project limits.
Roads and Highways (FLUCFCS Code 814): The majority of the project area consists of the existing paved roads CR 339 and SR 500. This land use type describes the paved road surfaces, medians, and grassy maintained road shoulders.
Hardwood-Coniferous Mixed (FLUCFCS Code 434): This classification describes most of the upland areas outside of the existing road. Dominant species include slash pine (Pinus elliottii), loblolly pine (P. taeda), water oak (Quercus nigra), red maple (Acer rubrum), wax myrtle (Morella cerifera), gallberry (Ilex glabra), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), and bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum). Some of these areas are adjacent to Coniferous Plantations and may contain some planted slash pines.
Coniferous Plantations (FLUCFCS Code 441): Pine plantation land use is common in the vicinity, and occurs within the project area in the new road alignment segment. Dominant species include planted slash pine, gallberry, bracken fern, and some water oak and red maple.
The wetland system consists of a freshwater system. Four wetland types occur within the project limits, described as follows:
Streams and Waterways (FLUCFCS Code 510): The project area includes two existing crossings over the Little Waccasassa River – one on CR 339, and one on SR 500. This classification describes the open water portions of this creek at both locations.
Mixed Wetland Hardwoods (FLUCFCS Code 617): The deepest wetlands in the project area occur at the northern terminus of the new road segment at CR 339 and at the existing Waccasassa River CR 339 bridge crossing. Dominant species include laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana), red maple, dahoon (Ilex cassine), lizard’s tail (Saururus cernuus), and chain ferns (Woodwardia spp.).
Hydric Pine Flatwoods (FLUCFCS 625): This habitat type occurs as bands, sometimes of considerable width, around the edges of other wetland types. Dominant species include slash pine, red maple, water oak, laurel oak, chain ferns, and cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea).
Wetland Forested Mixed (FLUCFCS 630): This is the most common wetland habitat type in the project area. Dominant species composition is similar to that of the Mixed Wetland Hardwoods described above, but includes a considerable percentage of cypress (Taxodium distichum) and slash pine.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to dredge and fill 4.38 acres of waters of the United States (wetlands and surface waters) and temporary fill 2.48 acres of waters of the U.S. (2.38 acres of wetlands and 0.10 acres of surface waters) associated with removing the existing CR 339 intersection and CR 339 bridge over the Waccasassa River and constructing a new intersection approximately 1,800 feet west of its current location, and realigning CR 339. The realigned portion of CR 339 does not cross the Waccasassa River and therefore does not require a bridge. A new stormwater pond is included in the plan. In addition, the project would incur approximately 6.78 acres of secondary wetland impacts.
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:
Avoidance and minimization of wetland impacts have been a major consideration of this project since its inception. The project was the subject of a Natural Resources Evaluation (NRE) report prepared by FDOT in 2018. Since that report was prepared, the design has been finalized and wetland impacts have been avoided and minimized to the maximum extent practicable. Some impacts to wetlands are unavoidable due to the fact that the realigned road segment must traverse an area containing wetlands, a stormwater pond must be excavated, and a segment of CR 339 and the existing CR 339 bridge must be removed. During construction, Best Management Practices (BMPs) will be used to ensure that the water quality of adjacent and downstream wetlands and waterways will be protected.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
The functional values of the on-site wetlands were evaluated using the Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM). All wetlands were determined to be moderate quality systems. Functional losses were determined for permanent wetland impacts, temporary wetland impacts, and secondary impacts as described above. See the attached UMAM Summary Sheet. This assessment includes all permanent wetland impacts, temporary wetland impacts, and secondary wetland impacts. Temporary work in the open water portion of the river is not included. This assessment concludes that the project will incur a total of 4.43 units of functional loss. FDOT will provide a credit allocation letter from a mitigation bank serving the project area.
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: Wood stork (Mycteria americana) and Eastern Indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couper)
Based upon review of the Wood Stork Key for Central and North Peninsular Florida dated September 2008, the proposed project resulted in the following sequential determination: A > B > C = “Not Likely to Adversely Affect” the wood stork. This determination is based on the project not being located within 2,500 feet of an active colony site and project impacts to suitable foraging habitat would be less than 0.5 acre.
Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi): The potential impacts to the endangered Eastern Indigo snake were evaluated using The Eastern Indigo Snake Programmatic Effect Determination Key, August 2013. Use of the Eastern Indigo snake key resulted in the following sequential determination: A > B > C > D > E “not likely to adversely affect” the Eastern Indigo snake. This is due to the existence of less than 25 potentially occupied and abandoned gopher tortoise burrows observed within the project area. Also the applicant proposes to follow the FWS approved Standard Protection Measures for the Eastern Indigo Snake during the clearing and construction phases of the project.
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 Waccasassa River or the Aucilla-Waccasassa watershed. 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 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, 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.
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.