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 Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. §403) as described below:
APPLICANT: Florida Department of Transportation, District 4
Attn: Hui Shi
3400 West Commercial Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33309
WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. The project site is located at the SR A1A North Causeway Bridge over the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway in Ft. Pierce, St. Lucie Count Florida.
Directions to the site are as follows: Beginning at the intersection of Orange Avenue and US1 in the City of Ft. Pierce, travel north on US1 approximately 1.54 miles to the intersection of US1 and SR A1A (North Causeway). Turn right (east) and travel approximately 0.25 miles to arrive at the project location.
APPROXIMATE CENTRAL COORDINATES: Latitude: 27.471977°
Basic: Linear Transportation.
Replace the existing SR A1A N. Causeway bascule bridge with a high-level, fixed-span bridge with an 85.25-foot vertical clearance over mean high water.
Overall: To replace the existing SR A1A N. Causeway bascule bridge with a high-level, bridge with an 85.25-foot vertical clearance over mean high water in Ft. Pierce, Florida.
EXISTING CONDITIONS: The wetland system consists of a saltwater system. The onsite vegetation consists of a mix of upland species such as Brazilian pepper on the upper slopes of the A1A causeway and mangrove and seagrass communities in the aquatic environment.. The existing area surrounding the project area consists of commercial businesses, marinas and a county park.
PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to permanently fill 0.01 ac. of un-vegetated, open-water portions of the waterway. In addition, the FDOT is requesting authorization to permanently fill 0.50 ac. of mangrove communities. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), District 4, is proposing to replace the SR A1A North Causeway Bridge (Bridge No. 90045) over the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. The project involves the replacement of the existing, low-level bascule bridge with a high-level, fixed-span bridge. In addition to bridging the waterway, the proposed bridge will be elevated over Old Dixie Highway and the Florida East Coast (FEC) railway before the west end of the bridge ties in at-grade to US1. The project will also incorporate stormwater management facilities to satisfy state water-quality criteria. Other impacts associated with the bridge construction (2.70 acres of shading) are regulated by the USCG.
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:
Specific impact avoidance / minimization elements have been incorporated into the project design. These include the following:
A vertical wall section is replacing a former fill slope on the roadway section from approximate Station Number 346+50 to 354+50 to reduce the impact footprint within the mangrove community on the south side of the eastern causeway.
A safety rail was added to the back side of the sidewalk along the south side of the eastern causeway which allowed the tie-down slope to be steepened from a 1:6 to a 1:2 slope. This reduced the impact footprint within the mangrove community from approximate Station Number 355+00 to 365+00.
A safety rail was added to the back side of the sidewalk along the north side of the eastern causeway which allowed the tie-down slope to be steepened from a 1:6 to a 1:2 slope. This reduced the impact footprint within the mangrove community from approximate Station Number 354+00 to 360+00.
The FDOT will require the selected contractor to identify seagrass resources adjacent to the project’s limits-of-construction with the direction to install and maintain floating buoys to ensure that construction activities will not cause unacceptable, adverse secondary impacts.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION – The applicant has offered the following compensatory mitigation plan to offset unavoidable functional loss to the aquatic environment:
Unavoidable direct and secondary impacts to mangroves will be mitigated at the Bear Point Mitigation Bank.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: A Cultural Resource Assessment Survey (CRAS) was conducted as part of the FDOT’s PD&E Study. The purpose of the CRAS was to locate and identify any cultural resources within the Area of Potential Effect (APE) and to assess their significance in terms of eligibility for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The CRAS was conducted in accordance with the requirements set forth in 36 CFR Section 60.4. Both the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) have reviewed and approved the CRAS conducted for this project. On June 24, 2020, the SHPO concurred that the project results in a finding of no adverse effect.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: Coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) was conducted during the project’s PD&E phase. The USFWS reviewed the project’s Wetland Evaluation/Essential Fish Habitat/Endangered Species Biological Assessment report that examined the potential effects on listed wildlife species with regards to several of different horizontal and vertical alignments for the proposed bridge replacement. A request for concurrence letter was transmitted to the USFWS on September 8, 2016. The USFWS responded with their concurrence, by signature, on October 31, 2016.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT (EFH): FDOT initiated Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultation with NMFS on March 23, 2017. As part of the consultation effort, FDOT sent a Natural Resource Assessment that included an Endangered Species Biological Assessment. Coordination with the NMFS concluded with issuance of a Biological Opinion (BO) on October 4, 2017.
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 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, 41 N Jefferson St., Suite 301, Pensacola, FL 32502-5644 within 30 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, Franklin M. Dimitroff in writing at the Panama City Permits Section, 41 N Jefferson St., Suite 301 Pensacola, FL 32502-5644; or by electronic mail at Franklin.M.Dimitroff@usace.army.mil; or by telephone at (850) 433-8732 Ext. 7.
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.