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, James Beers, telephone number: (501) 340-1373, mailing address: Little Rock District Corps of Engineers, Regulatory Division, PO Box 867, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203-0867, email address: James.D.Beers@usace.army.mil
Project Information. Pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S. Code 1344), notice is hereby given that
Mr. Kevin Rice
Union Pacific Railroad
1400 Douglas Street
Omaha, Nebraska 68179
has requested authorization for work, including the placement of dredged and fill material, in waters of the United States (WOTUS) associated with the construction of a two-mile railroad siding track referred to as Hensley Siding. Mechanized land clearing, grading, track construction, bridge construction, culvert construction, and road construction will take place using suitable equipment, such as cranes, excavators, dump trucks, and bulldozers. The project would impact (fill and culvert) approximately 114 linear feet of ephemeral stream; 483 linear feet of perennial stream; and 1.39 acres of a wetland. Implementation of erosion and sediment controls at the site will minimize or eliminate water quality impacts, other than the planned fills, to receiving streams and wetlands, and will protect water quality in downstream waters. The proposed project is located in streams and adjacent wetlands associated with several tributaries (Wildcat Creek, Turkey Creek, Barnes Creek, and Rinehart Creek) that flow into Harris Bayou and ultimately the Arkansas River, in sections 4, 9, and 16, T. 3 S., R. 11 W., Hensley, Jefferson County, Arkansas.
The purpose of the project is to meet the demand of the increasing use of rail lines as a means of transportation for goods throughout Arkansas. The project is not water dependent.
The site crosses through a rural area, east of Interstate 530. Terrain on the site consists of mostly upland areas with occasional lowland areas throughout the property. The majority of the site has been maintained as forest land. Union Pacific Railroad’s mainline track currently transects the length of the property. To accomplish the project, clearing of existing vegetation, grading, filling, and stabilization of existing stream channels and wetlands would be required. The site would be graded and 1.31 acres of wetland and 114 linear feet ephemeral stream would be permanently filled; 0.08 acres of wetland would be temporarily filled; 67 linear feet of perennial streams would be permanently culverted; 257 linear feet of perennial streams would be temporarily culverted; and 159 linear feet of perennial stream bank will be stabilized. Approximately 3,184 cubic yards of soil, rock, and concrete would be required for fill material. The filled streams would be culverted, so no rerouting would be required. A storm water pollution prevention plan would be implemented to prevent and minimize transport of sediment to downstream waters not receiving fill material. Typical best management practices such as silt fencing and other construction methods would be used to mitigate impacts to water quality and other resources.
The applicant has investigated other alternative project sites in the proximity of the proposed site and stated that the project site is the only property in the area suitable for a siding track. Union Pacific Railroad has owned the current property for many years and the location of siding has been chosen to reduce the amount of streams and wetland impacts that would be permanently lost. The site plan avoids and minimizes permanent impacts to 389 linear feet of streams and 1.2 acres of wetland.
Compensatory mitigation requirements for impacts to the streams and the wetlands would be assessed utilizing the 2011 Little Rock District Stream Method and the 2002 Charleston Method. The applicant proposes to mitigate for unavoidable impacts by purchasing stream and wetland credits from an approved mitigation bank that services the area.
The location and general plan (i.e., location map; NHD, NWI, and soils maps; 30% design, not finalized for construction) for the proposed work are shown on the enclosed sheets (Sheets 1–30).
Water Quality Certification. The Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 Certification Rule (Certification Rule, 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 121), effective September 11, 2020, requires certification for any license or permit that authorizes an activity that may result in a discharge. The scope of a CWA Section 401 certification is limited to assuring that a discharge from a Federally licensed or permitted activity will comply with water quality requirements. The applicant is responsible for requesting certification and providing required information to the certifying agency. As of the date of this public notice, the applicant has not submitted a certification request to the Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment, Division of Environmental Quality (certifying authority). In accordance with Certification Rule Part 121.6, once the applicant submits a certification request the Corps will determine the reasonable period of time for the certifying agency to act upon the certification and provide written notification. In accordance with Certification Rule Part 121.12, the Corps will notify the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator when it has received the subject certification. The Administrator is responsible for determining if the discharge may affect water quality in a neighboring jurisdiction. The DA permit may not be issued pending the conclusion of the Administrator’s determination of effects on neighboring jurisdictions.
Cultural Resources. A Corps staff archeologist has conducted a preliminary review of available cultural resource data from the Arkansas Archeological Survey’s AMASDA site (Automated Management of Archeological Site Data in Arkansas), identifying known cultural resource sites near the project area. The Corps staff archeologist will also review topographic maps, the National Register of Historic Places, and other data sources on reported sites in the area to identify any potential cultural resources that may be affected by the proposed action. The applicant also searched the National Register of Historic Places for historic properties, identifying 65 National Register-listed sites in Jefferson County, none of which are within the project area. Additional cultural resource identification efforts are anticipated but have not yet been conducted or planned and finalized.
The District Engineer invites responses to this public notice from Native American Nations or tribal governments; Federal, State, and local agencies; historical and archeological societies; 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.
Floodplain. We 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.
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 October 29, 2021. 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
Latitude: 34.47837° Longitude: -92.19715°
UTM Zone: 15 North: 3815491.18 East: 573724.14