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 Environmental Protection Specialist, Gerald Dickson, telephone number: (501) 324-1372, mailing address: Little Rock District Corps of Engineers, Regulatory Division, PO Box 867, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203-0867, email address: Gerald.W.Dickson@usace.army.mil
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
P.O. Box 2267
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 a bypass road between State Highway 16 and U.S. Highway 67/167. A total of 790 linear feet of streams and 1.0 acre of wetlands would be impacted by the proposed project. The proposed project is located in wetlands directly abutting an unnamed tributary to Rocky Branch, Rocky Branch, and an unnamed tributary to Rocky Branch, in sections 2 and 3, T. 7 N., R. 7 W., sections 31 and 32, T. 8 N., R. 6 W., and sections 33, 34, 35, and 36, T. 8 N., R. 7 W., Searcy, White County, Arkansas.
The basic purpose of the project is to relieve traffic issues in Searcy, Arkansas. The overall purpose of the project is to allow traffic to avoid Race Street and Beebe Capps Expressway, thus relieving traffic numbers on both roadways. The project would allow drivers traveling from the north and drivers traveling from U.S. Highway 67/167 to bypass traffic in downtown Searcy. The project would also provide traffic on the west side of Searcy better access to U.S. Highway 67/167. The project is not water dependent.
The project would drain an approximate 1.2-acre impounded pond and discharge permanent fill into a 1.0-acre wetland complex consisting of a 0.3-acre forested wetland and a 0.7-acre emergent wetland just east of Highway 16. The unnamed tributary to Rocky Branch that was impounded to create the pond would have a triple 10-foot-wide by 5-foot-tall by 158-foot-long reinforced concrete box culvert installed at the new road crossing location. A quintuple 10-foot-wide by 5-foot-tall by 255-foot-long reinforced concrete box culvert would be constructed west of North Main Street on Rocky Branch to accommodate the new road layout. Additionally, Rocky Branch, just east of North Main Street, would be relocated 450 linear feet to the east and placed in a constructed channel to prevent possible damage to the new overpass during high flows. Rocky Branch is currently a roadside channel. The Rocky Branch constructed channel would be built as a natural streambed. A 9-barrel, 8-foot-wide by 4-foot-tall by 105-foot-long reinforced concrete box culvert would be constructed in the new channel of Rocky Branch to accommodate the new road layout for the connector ramp from North Main Street to the new bypass.
The AHTD proposes to offset the impacts to 1.0 acre of wetlands with 8.2 credits at the Glaise Creek Wetland Mitigation Bank near Worden, Arkansas. The AHTD proposes to offset the impacts to a total of 702 linear feet of stream with 2,206.5 credits at a Corps of Engineers approved mitigation bank that services the project area.
The western part of this phase from North Main Street to Highway 16 would be on new location and the eastern half would be essentially along the existing route on the North Bypass Road.
Approximately 740 linear feet of floodway and floodplain encroachment would be impacted by this project.
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) letter, the proposed project would require seven residential relocations for this section of the project. There would be no environmental justice issues associated with the proposed project. There would be no Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966, as amended, impacts. Approximately 36.8 acres of Prime Farmland and 2.7 acres of Farmland of Statewide Importance would be converted to highway right-of-way. The FHWA approved a FONSI for the proposed project on December 3, 2014, based on their conclusion that there are no significant environmental impacts.
Total length of the project is approximately 4.3 miles. A Department of the Army Nationwide Permit No. 14 would be verified for impacts to approximately 85 linear feet of an unnamed tributary to Rocky Branch for construction of a triple 10-foot-wide by 5-foot-tall by 85-foot-long reinforced concrete box culvert approximately 2,280 feet downstream from the impacted wetlands.
The location, general plan for the proposed work, and required mitigation credit worksheets 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 Resources. Based on the FHWA’s determination and consultation with the Arkansas State Historic Preservation Officer, no impacts to cultural resources are anticipated. 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. A copy of this notice is being furnished to the appropriate floodplain officials in accordance with 44 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 Regulations (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 September 7, 2015. 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 also 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: 35.266759° Longitude: -91.733907°
UTM Zone: 15 North: 3903361.39 East: 615160.59