I-66 Project Requests Army Corps of Engineers Permits – Comments Close Sept 4

Would you like to help your local wetlands and basements from I-66 expansion impacts, flooding, and pollution?

Transform 66 Wisely has been made aware that FAM Construction, I-66 Express Mobility Partners, and VDOT have applied for (Clean Water Act) waterway impact permits  from the United States Army Corps of Engineers (ACE).

ACE requires permits when waterways, streams, wetlands, and watersheds may be impacted with environmental damage from projects.   Without public input, the I-66 request is set to be rubber stamped.  Read on to learn how you can comment electronically before the September 4 deadline.

The I-66 widening project will have a significant impact on the area’s streams and wetlands.  Nearly all of the proposed storm water management facilities were removed from the project design since 2015.  Paving over an enormous amount of land with impervious blacktop causes rain and snow melt to quickly enter waterways, making flash floods downstream a regular occurrence.   To see the effects of unmitigated storm water impacts from I-495 widening/Express Lanes, take a walk on the Accotink Trail between Fairfax and Lake Accotink.  In the past eight years since the beltway widening, the creek shores have undergone severe erosion, while tributaries downstream from the beltway storm water outfalls undergo regular flash floods in frequent rain storms.  This storm water is contaminated with oils and chemicals, and winter storm treatments bring chlorides and other poisons into your waterways.

For I-66 widening, the application includes no mitigation at all for “temporary stream impacts,” with no indication of how long “temporary” impacts may exist.  (The project is expected to take at least 5 years to build).  The project seeks to purchase “wetland credits” so wetlands elsewhere may be preserved while wetlands downstream from I-66 may be destroyed forever.  Other strategies include “responsible mitigation” in lieu of buying more credits for wetlands, without specifying what the “responsible mitigation” actually entails.

Currently, ACE believes that “(l) no environmental impact statement will be required; (2) all required coordination under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544, 87 Stat. 884, as amended) has already been completed by the lead Federal Agency (Federal Highways Administration) and no further coordination is required; and (3) all required consultation under the National Historic Preservation Act has already been completed by the lead Federal Agency (Federal Highway Administration) and no further coordination is required. Additional information might change any of these findings. ”

This is where you come in.  Please consider commenting and telling the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that wetlands and waterways in our area deserve attention and protection.  The VDOT approved method is insufficient and falls far short of any meaningful protection for your environment.  We have witnessed how flash floods downstream of impervious paved areas have caused catastrophic flooding, including in Ellicot City Maryland, and throughout Northern Virginia this year.  The I-66 construction project can do far more, including pavements designed to allow storm water to trickle through and underground storm water management facilities that protect waterways while minimizing neighborhood impacts.

In addition, the public may request a public hearing for the project.  “Anyone may request a public hearing to consider this permit application by writing to the (ACE) District Commander within 30 days of the date of this notice, stating specific reasons for holding the public hearing. The District Commander will then decide if a hearing should be held. ”

Tell ACE that this corridor has few wetlands left, and “responsible mitigation” that includes permeable surfaces, underground storm water retention, and storm water faciltiies that protect downstream waterways, wetlands, and basements from I-66 project storm discharges.

Comments must be received by September 4, 2018. 

Comments on this project should be in writing and can be sent by either email to Lee.Fuerst@usace.army.mil, or by regular mail, addressed to the Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers (ATTN:  CENAO-WRR-C), 803 Front Street, Norfolk, Virginia  23510-1011, and should be received by the close of business on September 4, 2018.

For more information, including the proposed non-mitigation and project impact maps see:

http://www.nao.usace.army.mil/Media/Public-Notices/Article/1591256/nao-2011-1300/

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