TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The following application has been submitted for a Department of the Army Permit under the provisions of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. This notice serves as the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) request to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to act on Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the following application.
APPLICANT: Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT)
1980 West Broad Street, Mail Stop 4170
Columbus, Ohio 43223
LOCATION: The proposed project is located along Interstate 75 (I-75) between Allen Township Road 99 to the north and Lima Avenue to the south. The proposed project also includes U.S. Route (US) 68/State Route (SR) 15 from its juncture with I-75 to the north to approximately one-half mile south of the Lima Avenue interchange. The proposed project has a center coordinate of 41.037 north latitude, 83.673 west longitude, in the City of Findlay, Hancock County, Ohio. Waters of the United States (U.S.) within the project area include the Blanchard River; five unnamed tributaries to the Blanchard River; an unnamed tributary to the Maumee River; two wetlands; and two jurisdictional ditches.
DESCRIPTION OF PROPOSED WORK: The applicant proposes to discharge fill material into waters of the U.S. to reconfigure the interchanges of US 68/SR 15 with I-75 and US 68/SR 15 with Lima Avenue; and widen approximately five miles of I-75. The applicant has indicated permanent and temporary discharges of fill would be necessary in the Blanchard River; Streams 1, 3, and 5-7; and Ditches 1-2 to construct culverts, catch basins, and headwalls; to install concrete and plastic pipes; to construct roadway beds, roadway embankments, concrete drilled shafts, rock channel protection, and temporary work pads. Permanent fill would be necessary in Wetlands E and F to construct a concrete headwall, to place rock channel protection, to install plastic pipes, and for grading activities.
The applicant seeks authorization for their Minimal Degradation Alternative. Under the Minimal Degradation Alternative, the applicant proposes to discharge fill material into 1,060 linear feet of three perennial streams, 1,038 linear feet of three intermittent streams, 0.544 acre of two jurisdictional ditches, and 4.47 acres of two wetlands. Refer to the attached Tables 1 and 2 for a summary of proposed discharges. Plans of the proposal are attached to this notice.
ALTERNATIVES ANALYSIS: The applicant is required to show that no other less damaging practicable alternatives, which do not require the discharge of fill material into special aquatic sites, are available that would achieve the overall project purpose. No permit will be issued until the alternatives analysis clearly shows that less damaging practicable alternatives are not available to achieve the overall project purpose.
The applicant has submitted an alternatives analysis for review. The alternatives include a Preferred Alternative, a Minimal Degradation Alternative, and a Non-Degradation Alternative. The Minimal Degradation Alternative is described above. The discharge of fill material into waters of the U.S. under the Preferred Alternative (PA) would be increased from the Minimal Degradation Alternative by discharging fill into an additional:
· 760 linear feet of Stream 3 by utilizing 3:1 slopes instead of 2:1 under the Minimal Degradation Alternative
· 120 linear feet of Stream 6 to relocate and replace the box culvert under I-75
· 0.169 acre of Ditch 1 to reconfigure the drainage plan in the I-75/US 68 interchange
All other discharges of fill material into waters of the U.S. under the PA would be the same as described under the Minimal Degradation Alternative. The Non-Degradation Alternative is a “no build” alternative. Under the Non-Degradation Alternative, no discharge of fill material into waters of the U.S. would occur. The applicant has indicated the Non-Degradation Alternative would not meet the project purpose. A complete copy of the alternatives analysis can be reviewed, by appointment, at the location described at the beginning of the notice.
AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION: In evaluating a project area containing waters of the U.S., consideration must be given to avoiding waters of the U.S. If waters of the U.S. cannot be avoided, the discharge of fill material into waters of the U.S. must be minimized. A total of approximately 3,286 linear feet of perennial stream, 1,832 feet of intermittent stream, 4.47 acres of wetland, and 0.86 acres of jurisdictional ditches subject to Section 404 Clean Water Act regulation exist within the proposed project area. Avoidance and minimization efforts were incorporated into the proposal. According to the applicant and as described above, alternative plans were considered.
As described above, the initial Preferred Alternative design involved the discharge of fill into 2,978 linear feet of stream, 4.47 acres of wetland, and 0.713 acre of jurisdictional ditch. The discharges were minimized under the Minimal Degradation Alternative by reconfiguring the drainage plan and utilizing steeper embankment slopes. The applicant determined further avoidance of waters of the U.S. was not practicable due to complex roadway design, traffic, orientation of aquatic resources, land use/right-of-way constraints, and construction costs involved with this project.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION PLAN: To compensate for the permanent discharge of fill material into 2,086 feet of stream, the applicant proposes to deduct 2,248 linear feet of stream mitigation credit from ODOT’s St. John’s Dam Pooled Mitigation Area credit in Seneca County, Ohio. To compensate for the permanent discharge of fill material into 4.47 acres of wetland, the applicant proposes to purchase 6.705 acres of credit from an approved mitigation bank that includes the Blanchard River watershed (Hydrologic Unit Code 04100008) in its service area.
WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION: A Section 401 Water Quality Certification is required for this project. It is the applicant’s responsibility to obtain certification from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
HISTORIC AND CULTURAL RESOURCES: The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is the lead Federal agency for this project and is responsible for compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. The applicant determined no historic properties would be affected by the proposed project. In support of our independent permit decision, the Corps intends to rely upon the information collected by, and the consultation performed on behalf of, FHWA regarding the effects to historic properties. A copy of this Public Notice will be sent to the Ohio Historic Preservation Office for review. Comments concerning archaeological sensitivity of a project area should be based upon collected data.
THREATENED AND ENDANGERED SPECIES: The proposed project is located within the known or historic range of the following proposed endangered (PE) or endangered (E) species:
Northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) (PE), Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) (E), clubshell mussel (Pleurobema clava) (E), and rayed bean mussel (Villosa fabalis) (E). As the lead Federal agency, FHWA is responsible for compliance with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). On behalf of FHWA, the applicant determined the project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the Indiana bat. In a letter dated May 2, 2013, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service concurred with this determination. Additionally, the applicant determined the project would have no effect on the clubshell mussel or rayed bean mussel. No information was provided for the northern long-eared bat. Additional information is required before the Corps can determine effects to this species.
In support of our independent permit decision, the Corps intends to rely upon the information collected by or on behalf of the FHWA and consultation performed by or on behalf of FHWA regarding the effects of the project on threatened or endangered species.
PUBLIC INTEREST REVIEW AND CUMULATIVE EFFECTS: This application will be reviewed in accordance with 33 CFR 320‑332, the Regulatory Program of the Corps, and other pertinent laws, regulations, and executive orders. Our evaluation will also follow the guidelines published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency pursuant to Section 404(b)(1) of the Clean Water Act (40 CFR part 230). The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts, 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 benefit which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors that may be relevant to the proposal will be considered including the cumulative effects thereof; among those factors are conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historic 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. A permit will be granted unless its issuance is found to be contrary to the public interest.
SOLICITATION OF COMMENTS: The 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. For accuracy and completeness of the administrative record, all data in support of or in opposition to the proposed work should be submitted in writing setting forth sufficient detail to furnish a clear understanding of the reasons for support or opposition. Any person may request, in writing, within the comment period specified in the notice, that a public hearing be held to consider the application. Requests for public hearings shall state, with particularity, the reasons for holding a public hearing. 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 decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity. Written statements received in this office on or before the expiration date of this Public Notice will become a part of the record and will be considered in the final determination.
CLOSE OF COMMENT PERIOD: All comments pertaining to this Public Notice must reach this office on or before the close of the comment period listed on page one of this Public Notice.
If no comments are received by that date, it will be considered that there are no objections. Comments and requests for additional information should be submitted to:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington District
ATTN: CELRH-RD-S-OT Public Notice No. LRH-2013-00042-MAU
Building 10/ Section 10
PO Box 3990
Columbus, OH 43218-3990
Please note names and addresses of those who submit comments in response to this Public Notice become part of our administrative record and, as such, may be available to the public under provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. Thank you for your interest in our nation’s water resources. If you have any questions concerning this Public Notice, please contact Tim Long of the South/Transportation Branch, at 614-692-4654, by mail at the above address, or by email at Timothy.M.Long@usace.army.mil.