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 project manager, Mr. Johnny McLean, telephone number: (501) 324-5295, mailing address: Little Rock District Corps of Engineers, Regulatory Division, PO Box 867, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203‑0867, email address: Johnny.L.McLean@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 Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD)
PO Box 2261
Little Rock, Arkansas 72203-2261
has requested authorization for the placement of dredged and fill material in waters of the United States associated with constructing the southwest segment of the Paragould Bypass. The southeast segment of the bypass was authorized in 2011 and is currently under construction. The southwest segment would cross twenty streams. The proposed project is located on the southwest side of Paragould and would connect State Highway 358 and U.S. Highway 49 on the south side of Paragould and U.S. Highway 412 on the west side of Paragould. The project is located in section 32, T. 17 N., R. 5 E., and sections 4, 5, 9, 14, 15 and 16, T. 16 N., R. 5 E., Greene County, Arkansas.
The basic purpose of the project is to construct a connector between U.S. Highway 412 on the east and west sides of Paragould, and U.S. Highway 49 on the south side of Paragould. The overall purpose of the project is to enhance safety and improve traffic operations on U.S. Highway 412. The project is not water dependent.
The project would cross twenty streams including Eightmile Creek and ten of its unnamed tributaries, and nine unnamed tributaries to Village Creek. The project would permanently fill and relocate five streams and realign fifteen streams for box or pipe culvert construction. Approximately 2,084 cubic yards of fill material would be discharged into the twenty streams and approximately 6,102 linear feet of stream would be impacted. Eightmile Creek is perennial. Eight of the unnamed tributaries are intermittent and eleven unnnamed tributaries are ephemeral. Fifteen of the unnamed tributaries are moderately functional. Eightmile Creek and four of the unnamed tributaries are functionally impaired. The substrate of the streams is generally a mix of sand and gravel.
This project is located in the Mississippi Valley Loess Plain Ecoregion commonly known as Crowley’s Ridge, and in the Lower St. Francis River 8-digit (08020203) hydrologic unit code (HUC). Village Creek flows into Eightmile Creek and Eightmile Creek flows into the St. Francis River southeast of Paragould. The lower 338 miles of the St. Francis River, beginning at Wappapello, Missouri, are designated as navigable under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act. Lands adjacent to the project are a mix of remnant forest, pasture and residential development.
The entire project would be built on new location and would construct two lanes of the ultimate four lane roadway. The average right-of-way width for the project is 265 feet and the total length for the project is 5.2 miles. The new roadway would consist of two 12-foot-wide travel lanes with 8-foot-wide shoulders. The environmental assessment (EA) for the project was approved on May 5, 2009. The EA evaluated three new location alternatives. The southernmost alternative (Alternative S2) was chosen since it met the purpose and need, minimized overall impacts, balanced the benefits versus the overall impacts and serviced a large number of motorists. After the location public hearing (LPH), additional modifications were made to the Alternative S2 alignment in order to minimize impacts to residences, improve interchange design and reduce potential flooding. Alternative S2 will be combined with additional enhancements along the existing U.S. Highway 412 to provide an acceptable level of service once the bypass is in place. These enhancements will include coordination and optimization of traffic signals and intersection improvements at Rockingchair Road, Reynolds/Carroll Road, and Highway 49Y. The finding of no significant impact (FONSI) for the project was completed on April 18, 2011. A Design Reassessment was aproved on March 28, 2015. A copy of the EA, FONSI and Design Reassessment are available for viewing at the AHTD Central Office in Little Rock.
There are no environmental justice issues associated with the project. The project would not adversely impact any wetlands or historic properties. Approximately 22.5 acres of prime farmland would be converted to highway right-of-way. The project would relocate eight residences and three businesses. The City of Paragould and Greene County participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). No special floodplain hazard areas will be impacted by this project, however, work will occur in the floodplain at the stream crossings. The AHTD has determined that the project will not support incompatible use and development of the floodplain and adjacent properties should not be impacted nor have a greater flood risk than existed before construction of the project, and none of the encroachments will constitute a significant floodplain encroachment or a significant risk to property or life.
The AHTD attempted to cross the streams perpendicular to their paths in order to minimize impacts; however, complete avoidance was not possible. The AHTD proposes to mitigate for the unavoidable impacts to 6,102 linear feet of stream at an offsite permittee-responsible mitigation site located on Crowley’s Ridge. Stream credit requirements were calculated utilizing the Little Rock District Stream Method. Copies of the stream credit worksheets are attached. Temporary and permanent erosion control measures will minimize adverse impacts to streams and adjacent wetlands. The location and general plan for the proposed work are shown on the enclosed sheets 1 through 7 of 9.
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. The AHTD staff archeologists have reviewed topographic maps, the National Register of Historic Places, and other data on reported sites in the area. The FHWA has completed 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; 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 other 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 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 November 21, 2016. 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: 36.01719 Longitude: -90.52723
UTM Zone: 15 North: 3988684 East: 722838