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SWL 2017-00217

Published July 28, 2017
Expiration date: 8/22/2017

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:  Comments are invited on the work described below.  Please see the Public Involvement section for details on submitting comments. 

Point of Contact.  If additional information is desired, please contact the regulator, Johnny McLean, telephone number:  (501) 340-1382, or Gerald Dickson, telephone number:  (501) 340-1372, mailing address:  Little Rock District Corps of Engineers, Regulatory Division, PO Box 867, Little Rock, Arkansas  72203-0867, email address: 

Project Information.  Pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S. Code 1344), notice is hereby given that 

                              Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD)
P.O. Box 2261
Little Rock, Arkansas  72203-2400 

has requested authorization for the placement of dredged and fill material in waters of the United States associated with construction of two new bridges, one over Bear Creek and the other over the South Fourche La Fave River on Highway 7 in the Ouachita National Forest.  The proposed project is located in Bear Creek and the South Fourche La Fave River, in sections 26, 27, 34, and 35, T. 3 N., R. 20 W., and section 2, T. 2 N., R. 20 W., Perry County, Arkansas. 

The basic purpose of the project is to upgrade the roadway and improve safety.  The overall purpose of the project is to construct two new bridges to replace two weight-restricted and functionally obsolete bridges.  The two new bridges will remove the safety hazards associated with narrow bridges and reduce the restrictions on heavy loads on this section of Highway 7. 

The existing 304-foot-long by 21-foot-wide bridge over Bear Creek will be replaced with a 422-foot-long by 37-foot-wide continuous W-beam bridge downstream of the existing bridge.  The existing 485-foot-long by 21-foot-wide bridge over the South Fourche La Fave River will be replaced with a 498-foot-long by 37-foot-wide continuous W-beam bridge downstream of the existing bridge.  Construction of the new bridge over Bear Creek will relocate approximately 290 linear feet of an ephemeral stream into the new roadside channel.  Construction of the new bridge over the South Fourche La Fave River will relocate approximately 1,606 linear feet of an ephemeral stream and 273 linear feet of an intermittent stream into the new roadside channel.  Total impacts to waters of the United States for the construction of this project are estimated at less than 0.9 acres.  Two temporary work roads will be constructed in Bear Creek, placing approximately 120 cubic yards of riprap below the ordinary high water mark (OHWM) for construction of the roads.  Additionally, a temporary work road will be constructed in the South Fourche La Fave River, placing approximately 300 cubic yards of riprap below the OHWM for road construction. 

The current roadway width on both the Bear Creek Bridge and South Fourche La Fave River Bridge is 20 feet, and the proposed bridge roadway widths will be 34 feet, with two 11-foot-wide travel lanes and 6-foot-wide shoulders on either side.  Maintenance of traffic will utilize the existing bridges during construction, and as the new bridges are open to traffic, the existing structures and approaches will be demolished. 

A Biological Evaluation that included an alternatives analysis for the project was conducted by the AHTD and published in January 2016.  The new bridge locations were selected to avoid greater amounts of fill material, to avoid the need for rock blasting, and to avoid a historic road section. 

The South Fourche La Fave River Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and the Bear Creek Bridge is eligible for inclusion on the NRHP.  The bridges were marketed by the AHTD, but no responsible entity came forward to assume ownership.  Through a Memorandum of Agreement dated February 2015, it was agreed that AHTD Bridge Numbers 01720 and 01721 would be documented to the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program's architectural documentation standards and then demolished. 

An Evaluation and Documentation of a De Minimis Finding to Section 4(F) Property for Public Parks, Recreational Lands, and Wildlife/Waterfowl Refuges was accomplished in April 2017, by the Federal Highway Administration for impacts to the South Fourche Campground, an Ouachita National Forest facility.  Upon review of the project at an on-site field inspection with Ouachita National Forest staff, it was determined that the alternate project alignment impacts would be more adverse than the current project alignment.  Impacts as a result of the project will include acquiring approximately 0.42 acres of permanent right-of-way, approximately 0.37 acres of temporary construction easements, the temporary closure of three camping sites, and loss of several trees in the campground.  Noise impacts are also expected throughout construction, but will be minor and temporary.  Access to the South Fourche Campground, river access, restroom facilities, and remaining campsites will be maintained throughout construction.  Recreational uses after construction of the highway will be unchanged from the present conditions. 

The AHTD proposes to offset the impacts to a total of 2,169 linear feet of stream with 9,950.8 credits at a Corps of Engineers approved mitigation bank that services the project area. 

The location and general plan for the proposed work are shown on the enclosed sheets 1 through 7 of 7. 

Water Quality Certification.  By copy of this public notice, the applicant is requesting water quality certification from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) in accordance with Section 401(a)(1) of the Clean Water Act.  Upon completion of the comment period and a public hearing, if held, a determination relative to water quality certification will be made.  Evidence of this water quality certification or waiver of the right to certify must be submitted prior to the issuance of a Corps of Engineers permit.

Cultural ResourcesThe AHTD staff archeologists have reviewed topographic maps, the National Register of Historic Places, and other data on reported sites in the area.  The FHWA is the lead agency for coordination with all associated Native American Nations and tribal governments.  The District Engineer invites responses to this public notice from Federal, State, and local agencies; historical and archeological societies; Native American Nations and tribal governments and other parties likely to have knowledge of or concerns with historic properties in the area.

Endangered Species.  Our preliminary determination is that the proposed activity will not affect listed Endangered Species or their critical habitat.  A copy of this notice is being furnished to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and appropriate state agencies and constitutes a request to those agencies for information on whether any listed or proposed‑to‑be‑listed endangered or threatened species may be present in the area which would be affected by the proposed activity. 

FloodplainWe are providing copies of this notice to appropriate floodplain officials in accordance with 44 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 60 (Floodplain Management Regulations Criteria for Land Management and Use) and Executive Order 11988 on Floodplain Management. 

Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines.  The evaluation of activities to be authorized under this permit, which involves the discharge of dredged or fill material will include application of guidelines promulgated by the Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency, under authority of Section 404(b) of the Clean Water Act.  These guidelines are contained in 40 Code of Federal CFR 230. 

The Guidelines define water dependency in terms of an activity requiring access or proximity to or siting within a special aquatic site to fulfill its basic project purpose. Special aquatic sites (as defined in 40 CFR 230.40-230.45) are:  (1) sanctuaries and refuges; (2) wetlands; (3) mud flats; (4) vegetated shallows; (5) coral reefs; and (6) riffle and pool complexes.  Pursuant to these guidelines, the project is not water dependent. 

Public Involvement.  Any interested party is invited to submit to the above-listed POC written comments or objections relative to the proposed work on or before August 22, 2017.  Substantive comments, both favorable and unfavorable, will be accepted and made a part of the record and will receive full consideration in determining whether this work would be in the public interest.  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 benefit, 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 the cumulative effects thereof; among those 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. 

The Corps of Engineers 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 of Engineers 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. 

Any person may request in writing within the comment period specified in this notice that a public hearing be held to consider this application.  Requests for public hearings shall state, with particularity, the reasons for holding a public hearing.  The District Engineer will determine if the issues raised are substantial and whether a hearing is needed for making a decision. 

NOTE:  The mailing list for this Public Notice is arranged by state and county(s) where the project is located, and includes any addressees who have asked to receive copies of all public notices.  Please discard notices that are not of interest to you.  If you have no need for any of these notices, please advise us so that your name can be removed from the mailing list. 


Approximate Coordinates of Project Center 

South Fourche LaFave River 

Latitude:  34.871361°                Longitude:  -93.110629° 

UTM Zone:  15N     North:  3858783.22            East:  489889.15 

Bear Creek 

Latitude:  34.850627°                Longitude:  -93.100178° 

UTM Zone:  15N     North:  3856483.29            East:  490842.17