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Notice of Intent To Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) in Cooperation With the North Carolina Department of Transportation and South Carolina Department of Transportation for Extending SC 31 (Carolina Bays Parkway), in Horry County, South Carolina, To Connect to US 17, in Brunswick County, North Carolina

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Notice of Intent To Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) in Cooperation With the North Carolina Department of Transportation and South Carolina Department of Transportation for Extending SC 31 (Carolina Bays Parkway), in Horry County, South Carolina, To Connect to US 17, in Brunswick County, North Carolina

Scott McLendon
Department of Defense
6 July 2017


[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 128 (Thursday, July 6, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 31313-31314]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-14214]


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DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers


Notice of Intent To Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact 
Statement (DEIS) in Cooperation With the North Carolina Department of 
Transportation and South Carolina Department of Transportation for 
Extending SC 31 (Carolina Bays Parkway), in Horry County, South 
Carolina, To Connect to US 17, in Brunswick County, North Carolina

AGENCY: Department of the Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

ACTION: Notice of intent.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Wilmington District, 
Wilmington Regulatory Division and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 
Charleston District, Charleston Regulatory Division (collectively COE) 
are issuing this notice to advise the public that a State (North 
Carolina Department of Transportation [NCDOT] and South Carolina 
Department of Transportation [SCDOT]) funded Draft Environmental Impact 
Statement (DEIS) will be prepared for improvements to SC 31 starting 
near Little River, Horry County, South Carolina and running northeast 
to US 17, in an area between Calabash and Shallotte, Brunswick County, 
North Carolina. This project is called the ``Carolina Bays Parkway 
Extension'' and is NCDOT Project 44604 and SCDOT Project P029554. In 
accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the COE 
is the lead Federal agency responsible for the preparation of the DEIS. 
Information included in the DEIS will serve as the basis for the COE's 
evaluation of the proposed project pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean 
Water Act (CWA). As directed by CEQ regulations implementing NEPA, the 
COE will cooperate with the NCDOT to the fullest extent possible to 
reduce duplication between NEPA and the North Carolina Environmental 
Policy Act of 1971 (SEPA). Therefore, the DEIS will also serve as the 
basis for the NCDOT's evaluation of the proposed project pursuant to 
SEPA. The DEIS will assess the potential effects of the proposed 
project and a range of reasonable project alternatives on impacts to 
navigable waters and other waters of the United States, including 
wetlands. The DEIS will also provide information for Federal, State, 
and local agencies having other jurisdictional responsibility.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Questions about the COE's review of 
the proposed action, including preparation of the DEIS, can be directed 
to Mr. Brad Shaver, Regulatory Project Manager (Wilmington District), 
Wilmington Regulatory Field Office, 69 Darlington Avenue, Wilmington, 
NC 28403, by telephone: (910) 251-4611, or by email at 
Brad.E.Shaver@USACE.army.mil or Mr. John Policarpo, Regulatory Project 
Manager (Charleston District), Charleston Regulatory Field Office, 69A 
Hagood Avenue, Charleston, SC 29403, by telephone: (843) 329-8043, or 
by email at John.N.Policarpo@USACE.army.mil. Questions about the 
NCDOT's involvement with the proposed project, including use of the 
DEIS for purposes of SEPA, can be directed to Ms. Kim Gillespie P.E., 
NCDOT Project Planning Engineer, telephone: (919) 707-6023. Questions 
about SCDOT's involvement with proposed project can be directed to Ms. 
Leah Quattlebaum P.E., SCDOT Program Manager, telephone (803) 737-1751.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The COE is evaluating a proposal from the 
NCDOT and SCDOT in accordance with Section 404 of the CWA and NEPA. 
Based on the available information, the COE has determined that the 
proposed project has the potential to significantly affect the quality 
of the human and natural environment, and therefore warrants the 
preparation of an EIS.
    Description of the Proposed Project. The NCDOT and SCDOT are 
proposing

[[Page 31314]]

transportation improvements from SC 31, in Little River, Horry County, 
South Carolina, to US 17, near Shallotte, Brunswick County, North 
Carolina. This proposed project is called the ``Carolina Bays Parkway 
Extension'' and is NCDOT Project 44604 and SCDOT Project P029554.
    Based on the 2006 Feasibility Study, the Carolina Bays Parkway 
(CBP) Extension is needed to improve motorists' mobility and manage 
existing and future traffic congestion projected along US 17 and other 
roadways such as S-57/SR 1303 (Hickman Road) within Horry and Brunswick 
Counties. The preliminary project study area is roughly bounded on the 
southwest at the interchange of SC 31 and SC 9 near Little River, Horry 
County, South Carolina, and runs northeast near SR 1303 (Hickman Road) 
and finally along the existing US 17 corridor up to the Town of 
Shallotte, Brunswick County, North Carolina. The final project study 
area and purpose and need for the project will be further defined 
during development of the DEIS.
    To the extent practicable and consistent with COE oversight, this 
project is expected to be reviewed using the same or similar procedures 
as set forth in the merger process, as implemented in the State of 
North Carolina. This merger process is a synchronized review process 
performing the various environmental review and permitting procedures 
or consultation requirements necessary for a proposed project in a 
concurrent fashion. The process would provide a forum for appropriate 
agency representatives to discuss and reach consensus on ways to 
facilitate meeting the regulatory requirements of Section 404 of the 
CWA during the NEPA/SEPA decision-making phase of transportation 
projects.
    The CBP project has roots back to the 1980s and was revitalized 
with coordination in the 2000s culminating in a feasibility study 
produced in July of 2006. The feasibility study can be located on the 
project Web page at: https://www.ncdot.gov/projects/CBP/. The current 
effort by the COE, NCDOT and SCDOT anticipates a DEIS completed by 2020 
and the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) completed by 2022.
    Environmental consequences: CEQ regulations (40 CFR 1502.16) state 
the EIS will include the environmental impacts of the alternatives 
including the proposed action, any adverse environmental effects which 
cannot be avoided should the proposal be implemented, the relationship 
between short-term uses of man's environment and the maintenance and 
enhancement of long-term productivity, and any irreversible or 
irretrievable commitments of resources which would be involved in the 
proposal should it be implemented. The EIS will assess a reasonable 
number of alternatives and identify and disclose the direct impacts of 
the proposed project on the following: Topography, geology, soils, 
climate, biotic communities, wetlands, fish and wildlife resources, 
endangered and threatened species, hydrology, water resources and water 
quality, floodplains, hazardous materials, air quality, noise, 
aesthetics, recreational resources, historical and cultural resources, 
socioeconomics, land use, public health and safety, energy requirements 
and conservation, natural or non-renewable resources, drinking waters, 
and environmental justice.
    Secondary and cumulative environmental impacts: Cumulative impacts 
result from the incremental impact of the proposed action when added to 
past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions, regardless of 
what agency or person undertakes the action. Geographic Information 
System (GIS) data and mapping will be used to evaluate and quantify 
secondary and cumulative impacts of the proposed project with 
particular emphasis given to wetlands and surface/groundwater 
resources.
    Mitigation: CEQ regulations (40 CFR 1502.14, 1502.16, and 1508.20) 
require the EIS to include appropriate mitigation measures. The COE has 
adopted a mitigation policy which embraces the concepts of ``no net 
loss of wetlands'' and project sequencing. This policy supports the 
overall goal to restore and maintain the chemical, biological, and 
physical integrity of ``Waters of the United States,'' specifically 
wetlands. Mitigation of wetland impacts has been defined by the CEQ to 
include: Avoidance of impacts (to wetlands), minimizing impacts, 
rectifying impacts, reducing impacts over time, and compensating for 
impacts (40 CFR 1508.20). Each of these aspects (avoidance, 
minimization, and compensatory mitigation) must be considered in 
sequential order. As part of the EIS, and in accordance with CEQ 
regulations and COE regulations (33 CFR 320.4(r) and 33 CFR part 332), 
the NCDOT and SCDOT will develop a compensatory mitigation plan 
detailing the methodology and approach to compensate for unavoidable 
impacts to waters of the U.S., including streams and wetlands.
    NEPA/SEPA Preparation and Permitting: The proposed project requires 
approvals from federal and state agencies under both the NEPA and the 
SEPA, respectively. Therefore, the COE will serve as the lead Federal 
agency for the NEPA process. The EIS will serve as the NEPA document 
for the COE, and as the SEPA document for the State of North Carolina.
    Within the EIS, the COE will conduct a thorough environmental 
review, including an evaluation of a reasonable number of alternatives. 
After distribution and review of the Draft EIS, consideration of public 
comment, and issuance of a Final EIS, the Wilmington District and the 
Charleston District will produce a Federal ROD that will document the 
completion of the EIS process and serve as a basis for permitting 
decisions. In accordance with SEPA, the State of North Carolina will 
issue a separate NC State ROD.
    To ensure that the full range of issues related to this proposed 
action are addressed and all significant issues identified, comments 
and suggestions are invited from all interested parties. Comments or 
questions concerning this proposed action and the EIS should be 
directed to the COE at the address provided. The Wilmington District 
and Charleston District will issue Public Notices consistent with CEQ 
requirements.

    Dated: June 27, 2017.
Scott McLendon,
Chief, Regulatory Division.
[FR Doc. 2017-14214 Filed 7-5-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3720-58-P



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