Application for Permit
APPLICATION NO.: NWW-2007-01303
WATERWAY: Sand Creek and Lake Pend Oreille
APPLICANT: Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company
DATE ISSUED: February 26, 2018
END DATE: March 28, 2018
Interested parties are hereby notified that the Walla Walla District has received an application from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF) for a Department of the Army permit for certain work in Waters of the United States, including wetlands, as described in the enclosed documents.
Additionally, interested parties are notified that the Commander, Thirteenth Coast Guard District has received an application from BNSF, requesting approval of location and plans for the construction of new bridges over navigable waterways of the United States. Mariners, maritime stakeholders and the public are highly encouraged to review this notice with attached preliminary plans carefully and provide comment on the proposed project.
APPLICANT: Matthew Keim, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF)
AGENT: Pierre Bordenave, Jacobs Engineering
U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS PROJECT MANAGER:
Shane P. Slate, (208) 433-4474, NWW_BNSF_Pendoreille@usace.army.mil
U.S. COAST GUARD DISTRICT 13 BRIDGE PROGRAM ADMINISTRATOR:
Steven M. Fischer
Thirteenth Coast Guard District
915 2nd Ave, Room 3510
Seattle, WA 98174
PURPOSE: Discharge rock fill material into Sand Creek, Lake Pend Oreille and adjacent wetlands for the construction of a 2.2 mile long second mainline track crossing.
WATERWAY: Lake Pend Oreille and Sand Creek
LOCATION: The proposed project would be located on Sand Creek, Lake Pend Oreille, and adjacent wetlands, within Sections 15, 22, 23, 25, 26, and 36, of Township 57 North, Range 2 West, near latitude 48.261554º N and longitude
–116.532741º W, in Bonner County, Sandpoint, Idaho.
AUTHORITY: The Department of the Army (DA) permit will be issued or denied under the authority of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344) for all fill materials discharged into waters of the United States, including wetlands. A DA permit is required for the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States (U.S.), including wetlands associated with bridges and causeways.
The DA also has the authority to issue permits under Section 10 of the Rivers & Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 403) for the discharge of fill material into navigable waters of the U.S. A DA permit is required for work or structures, except bridges and causeways, waterward of the ordinary high water mark located in or over navigable waters of the United States, including the excavation, dredging or deposition of material in navigable waters, or any alteration obstructing or affecting the course, location, condition, or capacity of the navigable waterway. The only portion of this project that requires Section 10 authorization is the discharge of fill material at the south end of the project near Mile Post 5.1.
The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has the authority to issue or deny permits for bridges and causeways in or over navigable waters of the United States under the General Bridge Act of 1946 (33 U.S.C. 525 et seq.). The Coast Guard permits the location and plans of bridges and causeways and imposes any necessary conditions relating to the construction, maintenance, and operation of these bridges in the interest of public navigation. A bridge permit is the written approval of the location and plans of the bridge or causeway to be constructed or modified across a navigable waterway of the United States. USCG will act as federal lead agency overseeing compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultation for the proposed bridge projects.
* Please refer to Attachment A for a breakdown of the federal regulatory authorities of this project.
WORK (The US Army Corps of Engineers only has authority over the following):
The construction consists of a 2.2-mile-long second mainline track west of the existing BNSF mainline to connect the North Algoma Siding track (MP 5.1) south of Sandpoint, to the Sandpoint Junction switch (MP 2.9), where the BNSF and the Montana Rail Link (MRL) mainlines converge in Sandpoint.
Project activities would permanently discharge 11,220 cubic yards of rock into 1.16 acres of waters (0.88 acre) and wetlands (0.28 acre) and temporarily discharge 3680 cubic yards of rock into 0.38 acres of open water:
• 0.29-acre permanent fill in Lake Pend Oreille along the lakeshore edge at the south end of the project where the new track will connect to the existing BNSF Algoma Siding north switch.
• 0.01-acre permanent fill and 0.03-acre of temporary fill in Lake Pend Oreille at the south end of Bridge 3.9 to accommodate the transition from the bridges to the existing upland grade.
• 0.57-acre of permanent fill and 0.30-acre temporary fill in Lake Pend Oreille at the north end of the Bridge 3.9 to accommodate the transition from bridges to the existing upland grade. This fill will essentially match the length of the existing fill on which the existing BNSF mainline is built.
• 0.05-acre temporary fill from construction activities to install the Bridge 3.1 upland pilings along the water line north of the navigation channel.
• 0.01-acre permanent fill in Sand Creek at the south end of Bridge 3.1 to accommodate the transition from bridge to new rail grade.
• 0.28-acre of permanent wetland fill at the south end of Bridge 3.1 between the existing rail grade and the multi-use pedestrian path.
* Please refer to Attachment B detailing the project components within the Corps regulatory authority.
OTHER AUTHORIZATIONS: The Idaho Department Lands (IDL) and the USCG are also reviewing the proposed project under their respective authorities.
Attachments C and D include the additional portions of the proposed project which are regulated by the USCG under the General Bridge Act of 1946 (33 U.S.C. 525 et seq.).
Please mail any comments regarding the proposed bridge structures associated with this project to the USCG at:
Steven M. Fischer
Thirteenth Coast Guard District
915 2nd Ave, Rm 3510
Seattle, WA 98174
Or email: D13-PF-D13BRIDGES@uscg.mil
The Idaho Department of Lands has issued its own separate public notice regarding the proposed project. To view the IDL public notice, and all associated materials, please visit their website at https://www.idl.idaho.gov/lakes-rivers/lake-protection/index.html
CONSTRUCTION PERIOD: Applicant proposes to start construction in the Fall of 2018. The permit would authorize construction for a period of five years.
The applicant proposes the following mitigation measures to avoid, minimize, and compensate for impacts to Waters of the United States from activities involving discharges of dredged or fill material.
BNSF Railway Company has evaluated alternatives to avoid and minimize impacts to Waters of the U.S. In addition, a project-specific Water Quality Monitoring and Protection Plan (WQMPP) and a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) has been prepared and will be implemented for the project. The discharge of fill material and associated construction activities, in nearshore locations and wetlands, will occur at the earliest stages of the project to take advantage of performing that work while lake levels are lower and wetland areas are relatively dry to ensure temporary construction impacts are kept to a minimum.
To offset permanent impacts to 0.28 acres of wetlands, the applicant has proposed compensatory mitigation via the purchase of wetlands mitigation credits from the Valencia Wetland Mitigation Bank, in Priest River, Idaho. The applicant is currently investigating potential mitigation alternatives to offset 0.88 acres of permanent impacts to open water in Sand Creek and Lake Pend Oreille associated with the project’s construction impacts.
WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION: This notice will also serve as a Public Notice that the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ) is evaluating whether to certify that the discharge of dredge and/or fill material proposed for this project will not violate existing water quality standards. The DA and USCG permits will not be issued until water quality certification has been issued or waived by the IDEQ, as required by Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. If water quality certification is not issued, waived or denied within sixty (60) days of this public notice date, and an extension of this period is not requested by and granted to the IDEQ, certification will be considered waived. Additionally, within thirty (30) days of this Public Notice, any person may provide written comments to IDEQ as a request in writing that IDEQ provide them notice of their preliminary 401 Certification decision. Comments concerning Water Quality Certification for this project should be mailed to: Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, Coeur d’Alene Regional Office, 2110 Ironwood Parkway, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83814.
AQUATIC RESOURCE DESCRIPTION: Lake Pend Oreille and the Pend Oreille River, to which Sand Creek is a tributary to, comprise one of the largest water bodies in the state of Idaho. It is a natural lake that has been enlarged by the construction of the Albeni Falls Dam near Oldtown, ID, a multi-purpose project on the Pend Oreille River operated by the Corps of Engineers. It covers an area exceeding 90,000 acres of water and has a shoreline of 226 miles. The Albeni Falls Project is operated to maintain a water surface elevation of 2062.5 feet NGVD during summer recreation season and can be drawn down to 2051 feet NGVD during the winter.
There are several communities around the lake including Hope, East Hope, Bayview, Laclede, Priest River, Dover and Sandpoint. Most of the riparian lands along the lake and river are privately owned. However, there are substantial areas in the southern portion of Lake Pend Oreille under federal ownership. Residences and summer cabins are common along much of the waterfront properties along the lake and river.
CULTURAL RESOURCES: Coordination is currently being conducted with the office of the Idaho State Historic Preservation Officer to determine if this activity will affect a site that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, or a site that may be eligible for listing on the Register. We are also coordinating with the appropriate Tribal entity or the Tribal Historic Preservation Offices for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation, the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, and the Spokane Tribe, to determine if there are any tribal historic or cultural interests within the project area.
TRIBAL TREATY RIGHTS and INTERESTS: Federal agencies acknowledge the federal trust responsibility arising from treaties, statutes, executive orders and the historical relations between the United States and American Indian Tribes. The federal government has a unique trust relationship with federally recognized American Indian Tribes, including the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation, the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, and the Spokane Tribe. The Corps has a responsibility and obligation to consider and consult on potential effects to Tribal rights, uses and interests. The Corps further recognizes there may be a need for additional and on-going consultation.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The project is within the known or historic range of the bull trout and its critical habitat. Coordination is currently being conducted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to determine if the activity will have any effect on species designated as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act, or their critical habitat, under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (87 Stat. 844).
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT: Preliminary review indicates the proposed activities will not require preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement. Comments provided will be considered in preparation of an Environmental Assessment.
EVALUATION: 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. This 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, consideration of property ownership and in general, the needs and welfare of the people. In addition, our evaluation will include application of the EPA Guidelines (40 CFR 230) as required by Section 404(b)(1) of the Clean Water Act.
CONSIDERATION OF PUBLIC COMMENTS: The Corps of Engineers is soliciting comments from the general public; Federal, State and local agencies and officials, Tribal entities 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 in the proposed activity.
PUBLIC HEARING: Any person may request in writing, within the comment period specified in this notice, that a public hearing is held to consider this proposed activity. Requests for a public hearing shall state specific reasons for holding a public hearing. A request may be denied if substantive reasons for holding a hearing are not provided or if there is otherwise no valid interest to be served.
COMMENT & REVIEW PERIOD: Interested parties are invited to provide comments on the proposed activity, which will become a part of the record and will be considered in the final decision.
Please mail all comments to:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Walla Walla District
Attn: Shane Slate
Coeur d'Alene Regulatory Office
1910 Northwest Boulevard, Suite 210
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814-2676
Or email: NWW_BNSF_Pendoreille@usace.army.mil
Comments should be received no later than the comment due date of March 28, 2018, as indicated on this notice, to receive consideration.
Kelly J. Urbanek
Chief, Regulatory Division
Walla Walla District