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SAW-2013-01842

Posted: 1/14/2019

Expiration date: 2/13/2019


 

 

US Army Corps Of Engineers Wilmington District

PUBLIC NOTICE

Issue Date: January 14, 2019

Comment Deadline: February 13, 2019

Corps Action ID Number: SAW-2013-01842

The Wilmington District, Corps of Engineers (Corps) received information from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) regarding a potential future requirement for Department of the Army authorization to discharge dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, associated with improving US 158 (Shortcut Road) from East of NC 34 (Shawboro Road) at Belcross to NC 168 (Caratoke Highway) in Camden and Currituck Counties, North Carolina. The project is identified in NCDOT’s 2018-2027 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) as Project Number R-2574. Right of way acquisition and construction are unfunded and programmed for future years behind the STIP horizon.

Specific location information is described below. Construction plans are not attached to this Public Notice due to the large amount of pages. However, electronic copies of this Public Notice and the construction plans can be found at:

http://www.saw.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory-Permit-Program/Public-Notices/ .

Applicant: North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)

Project Management Unit

Attn: Nicole Hackler

Project Manager

1595 Mail Service Center

Raleigh, North Carolina 27699-1595

Authority

The Corps will evaluate this application to compare alternatives that have been carried forward for detailed study pursuant to applicable procedures of the following Statutory Authorities:

Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344)

In order to more fully integrate Section 404 permit requirements with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, and to give careful consideration to our required public interest review and 404(b)(1) compliance determination, the Corps is soliciting public comment on the merits of this proposal and on the alternatives considered. At the close of this comment period, the District Commander will evaluate and consider the comments received, as well as the expected adverse and beneficial effects of the proposed road construction, to select the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative (LEDPA). The District Commander is not authorizing construction of the proposed project at this time. A final DA permit may be issued only after our review process is complete, impacts to the aquatic environment have been minimized to the maximum extent practicable, and a compensatory mitigation plan for unavoidable impacts has been approved. 

Location

Location Description: The project extends from NC 34 at Belcross in Camden County to NC 168 in Currituck County, a distance of approximately 10.6 miles. The study area boundary for these projects encompasses the proposed transportation improvements (Figure 1).

Nearest Towns: Elizabeth City

Nearest Waterway: Coinjock Bay/Currituck Sound

River Basin: Pasquotank

Latitude: 36.350077

Longitude: -76.152354

Existing Site Conditions

Camden and Currituck Counties are located within the coastal region of eastern North Carolina. The project begins at NC 34 approximately six miles east of Elizabeth City and ends at NC 168 near the community of Barco. The project area is rural in nature with a substantial presence of agricultural land uses. Residential development is sparse along the project corridor. The North River Game Land and low-lying wetlands occupy the middle and eastern portions of the study area.

The roadway to be improved as part of the proposed project includes US 158 (Minor arterial). Minor arterials interconnect with and augment the urban principal arterial system and provide service to trips of moderate length at a somewhat lower level of travel mobility than principal arterials. Existing US 158 is a two lane roadway through the project area.

Applicant’s Stated Purpose

The purpose of the proposed project is to improve mobility and increase the roadway carrying capacity of US 158 in the project area to support both regional transportation needs and hurricane evacuation.

Project Description

North Carolina State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) Project No. R-2574 extends from NC 34 at Belcross in Camden County to NC 168 in Currituck County, a distance of approximately 10.6 miles (see Figure 1). Proposed improvements include four 12-foot travel lanes, a 46-foot median and eight-foot grassed shoulders (four-foot paved). It is anticipated approximately 200 feet of right of way will be required for the project. Partial control of access is proposed. All intersecting roadways will cross US 158 at-grade. No grade separations or interchanges are proposed.

The Albemarle Rural Planning Organization’s Comprehensive Transportation Plans for Camden County (July 2014) and Currituck County (May 2012) have identified this section of US 158 as an expressway that needs improvement. In 2011, NCDOT performed a feasibility study for widening US 158. The feasibility study identified potential improvements, preliminary costs, and possible impacts to the community and natural resources. Project development studies for R-2574 also began in 2011. The project has followed an interagency decision-making process (known as the NEPA/ 404 merger process) to reach concurrence on key project milestones. Between 2013 and 2016, the interagency merger process team concurred on the project’s purpose and need, alternatives to be studied in detail, and locations where wetlands and streams are to be bridged.

Project Benefits

Regional Travel

The proposed project will improve mobility and increase the traffic carrying capacity of this regionally important route. The additional capacity provided by this project will reduce travel time and provide a more reliable route for general travel and hurricane evacuations. The additional lanes will make it less likely the road would have to be closed due to an accident or other incident. US 158 is the only east-west route across Camden and Currituck Counties.

Traffic Levels of Service with Project

The A traffic capacity analysis was conducted for the project for the year 2035. US 158 will operate at LOS A with the project. The NC 168 intersection will operate at LOS D. The unsignalized Maple Road intersection will have traffic movements that operate at LOS C. The Indiantown Road and NC 34 intersections are also unsignalized and will have traffic movements that operate at LOS E and LOS F.

Hurricane Evacuation

The proposed widening of US 158 will result in substantial reductions in hurricane evacuation times. North Carolina General Statute 136-102.7 specifies that the hurricane evacuation standard to be used for any bridge or highway project is 18 hours.

The NC/ VA Border Traffic Control Plan calls for the closing of northbound NC 168 at the North Carolina border and redirecting evacuating traffic onto US 158 in cases where traffic evacuating from North Carolina would hinder the evacuation of the Virginia Beach/ Norfolk area. Without implementation of the NC/ VA Border Traffic Control Plan, evacuation times will be less than the 18-hour goal. Although the proposed widening alone will not reduce evacuation times to below the 18-hour goal in the year 2035 with implementation of the Border Traffic Control Plan, the proposed widening will reduce evacuation times by approximately 44 percent (from 52 hours to 29 hours). Table 1 below presents evacuation times with the proposed widening. These evacuation times are from the September 2013 hurricane evacuation analysis.

Table 1: Evacuation Clearance Times in the Year 2035 with Proposed Four-Lane US 158 (Category 3 Hurricane With 75% Occupancy) Condition

Time

Without NC/ VA Border Traffic Control Plan

14 hours

With NC/ VA Border Traffic Control Plan

29 hours

 

Safety

By increasing the number of lanes on US 158, the proposed project is expected to have a positive impact on vehicular safety. The proposed project will likely make it safer for large trucks and local traffic. The proposed paved shoulders will improve roadway drainage, making it less likely for vehicles to hydroplane during rain events. The proposed median will provide separation between opposing traffic, making head-on collisions less likely. The proposed dual lanes in each direction will allow faster traffic to pass slower moving vehicles without using the opposing traffic lane, making head-on and rear-end collisions less likely. Emergency response time should improve with construction of the project. By reducing the congestion on US 158, emergency vehicles traveling within or through this area would likely have a reduction in emergency response time.

Detailed Study Alternatives (DSA)

Concurrence on the alternatives for detailed study was reached at a NEPA/404 Merger Team meeting held on December 18, 2014. Team members agreed on the study alternatives described below:

No-Build Alternative

The No-Build Alternative would not provide any substantial improvements to US 158 within the study area; only typical maintenance activities would occur. The No-Build Alternative would not meet the purpose and need of the project.

Widening Build Alternatives

Widening existing US 158 would increase roadway capacity as well as support regional transportation needs and hurricane evacuation. The project has been divided into six sections in order to analyze potential impacts. The sections are shown on Figure 2 and described below.

• Section 1 – West end of project to just west of SR 1135 – 1.5 miles

• Section 2 – Just west of SR 1135 in Camden County to approximately 0.6 mile west of the western SR 1148 intersection in Currituck County – 0.7 mile

• Section 3 – Approximately 0.6 mile west of the western SR 1148 intersection to approximately 0.7 mile east of the eastern SR 1148 intersection – 3.5 miles

• Section 4 – Approximately 0.7 mile east of the eastern SR 1148 intersection to approximately 0.1 mile east of Maple Road – 2.1 miles

• Section 5 – Approximately 0.1 mile east of Maple Road to approximately 0.2 mile west of Will Poyner Lane – 1.1 miles

• Section 6 – Approximately 0.2 mile west of Will Poyner Lane to east end of project – 1.6 miles

NCDOT analyzed and refined the preliminary widening scenarios and selected options for Section 1 (south side), Section 2 (best fit), Section 4 (south side), and Section 5 (south side). The reasons for selecting the widening scenarios are described in Table 2.

Table 2: Widening Scenarios Selected for Detailed Study Section

Scenario Selected

Reason For Selection

1

South Side

Fewer business relocations

2

Best-Fit

Best fit for bridge at Run Swamp Canal

3

North Side and Best Fit

Fewer impacts to wetlands/ streams

4

South Side

Fewer impacts to wetlands/ streams, game land, and natural heritage area

5

South Side

Fewer impacts to wetlands/ streams, airport, and school

6

South Side and Best Fit

Fewer relocations and impacts to wetlands/ streams