U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Baltimore District
In Reply to Application Number
CENAB-OP-RPA-2008-01999-P25 (Jermyn Borough Flood Protection Project/Rushbrook Creek)
Comment Period: 9 May, 2013 to 8 June, 2013
THE PURPOSE OF THIS PUBLIC NOTICE IS TO SOLICIT COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC REGARDING THE WORK DESCRIBED BELOW. NO DECISION HAS BEEN MADE AS TO WHETHER OR NOT A PERMIT WILL BE ISSUED AT THIS TIME.
This District has received an application for a Department of the Army permit pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 and/or Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33. U.S.C. 1344) as described below:
APPLICANT: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP)
Department of General Services
Bureau of Engineering and Architecture
Headquarters Building, 18th and Herr Streets
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17125
WATERWAY AND LOCATION OF THE PROPOSED WORK: The project is located in Rushbrook Creek (Cold Water Fisheries designated stream) in Carbondale Township, Mayfield Borough, and Jermyn Borough, in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania. The project involves work along three (3) segments of Rushbrook Creek, consisting of: (1) approximately 148 linear feet of stream located adjacent to PA Route 107 in Carbondale Township; (2) approximately 260 linear feet of stream on the northwest side of the PA Route 107 and Old PA Route 6 (Scranton Carbondale Road) intersection in Mayfield Borough; and (3) approximately 2,180 linear feet of stream beginning on the southeast side of the PA Route 107 and Old PA Route 6 (Scranton Carbondale Road) intersection and extending to near River Street in Jermyn Borough.
PROPOSED WORK: The PADEP proposes to construct a flood protection project along three (3) segments of Rushbrook Creek. The combined project will result in approximately 2,600 linear feet (1.43 acres) of permanent impacts to Rushbrook Creek for streambank stabilization, channel excavation to increase stream capacity, and culvert installations. The depth of proposed excavation throughout the three (3) stream segments varies from a few inches to approximately 2.5 feet of material at the box culvert locations. All excavated materials will be used as backfill of the streambank stabilization features or disposed of at an upland disposal site. The proposed work is as follows:
Carbondale Township: Beginning at the upstream project limits, in Carbondale Township, facing downstream, the construction proposal includes temporary construction, access, and stream diversion along 148 linear feet of stream channel, the installation of approximately 120 linear feet of R-7 riprap along the left stream bank for stabilization, and excavation of the stream substrate.
Mayfield Borough: The proposed work along the segment of stream channel located on the northwest side of the PA Route 107 and Old PA Route 6 (Scranton Carbondale Road) intersection in Mayfield Borough includes temporary construction, access, and stream diversion along 260 linear feet of stream channel. Specifically the proposed work involves: (1) the installation of a steel H-pile trash rack which is comprised of approximately eight (8) steel pilings, measuring 6 feet long by 8 inches by 8 inches, concreted into a 14-inch diameter by 2-foot deep hole, spaced approximately 4 feet apart within the stream bed extending the width of the stream channel (the local authorities are proposed to be responsible for monitoring and maintenance of the trash rack to ensure that debris is not causing a backup of the water); (2) a construction of approximately 70 linear feet of precast concrete block wall along the left stream bank; (3) approximately 180 linear feet of precast concrete block wall along the right stream bank for stabilization; (4) excavation of the stream substrate; and (5) the removal of trees is proposed within this stream segment for the purposes of construction and to protect the stability and integrity of the concrete walls.
Jermyn Borough: The proposed work along the segment of stream channel located on the southeast side of the PA Route 107 and Old PA Route 6 (Scranton Carbondale Road) intersection in Jermyn Borough includes the construction of approximately 1,950 linear feet of precast concrete block walls along the left and right streambanks for stabilization. [Existing conditions within this stream segment include approximately 1,325 linear feet of the stream channel being previously manipulated by the installation of a combination of gabion basket walls, concrete block walls, stone walls, bridges and culverts along the left and right streambanks.] The width of the channel will be approximately 22 feet wide along the length of the project. [The existing average width of the channel is approximately 20 feet, with the minimum width of approximately 16 feet and the maximum width of approximately 30 feet.] Also proposed is the excavation of material within the stream channel invert along the entire 1,950-linear-foot length of this stream segment. The proposal also includes the replacement of five (5) of seven (7) original bridge structures within this stream segment. Four (4) of the original bridge structures (Lincoln Avenue, Jefferson Avenue, Madison Avenue, and South Washington Avenue) are existing, currently being utilized, and are undersized. These four (4) bridge structures are proposed to be replaced with four (4), 22-foot-wide by 8-foot-long precast concrete V-bottom box culverts with depressed inverts and alternating baffles. Three of the original bridge structures (Mellow Court, Shields Court, and Johnson Court) were washed out during past flooding events and are no longer in place. The Johnson Court previously-existing crossing is proposed to be replaced with a 22-foot-wide by 8‑foot-long precast V-bottom concrete box culvert with depressed inverts and alternating baffles. The previously-existing Mellow Court and Shields Court bridge structures are not proposed to be replaced. Also proposed within this stream segment are three (3) sections of embedded concrete V-shaped grade controls to match the V-shaped bottom of the proposed box culverts for the purpose of concentrating low flows in the middle of the stream to enhance movement of aquatic life and keep normal flow away from the toes of the concrete sidewalls. Multiple trees are present within the project area, and the removal of the existing trees is proposed along the entire length of this stream segment for the purposes of construction and to protect the stability and integrity of the concrete walls. Additionally, a short earthen levee is proposed to be constructed in uplands adjacent to the downstream limits of the project near River Street.
PROJECT PURPOSE: The PADEP proposes to construct a flood protection project along three (3) segments of Rushbrook Creek to provide flood protection for the 1% annual chance flood (100-year flood) for the residents along Rushbrook Creek and the Borough of Jermyn, in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania.
ALTERNATIVES ANALYSIS: The applicant has investigated nine project alternatives during the project design process. The project alternatives are as follows:
Alternative 1: The applicant evaluated the alternative of converting the stream into a 16-foot-wide rectangular concrete-lined channel through Jermyn Borough. This alternative also included the installation of the trash rack, five (5) precast concrete box culverts (if necessary), and a short low levee. The PROS for this alternative include the necessary land acquisition of fewer properties, estimated to be between two (2) and four (4) properties, and removal of fewer structures than other alternatives; the potential that some of the bridges may not need to be replaced due to the bridge openings, once concreted, being adequate to carry adequate flow; the ease of maintenance of the concrete-lined channel; and the likelihood that rehabilitation of the concrete channel would not be necessary for decades. The CONS include the loss of approximately 3,000 linear feet of natural streambed and banks of Rushbrook Creek (Cold Water Fisheries designated stream) which would negatively impact the wild trout population and macroinvertebrate life within the stream.
Alternative 2: Another alternative evaluated was to construct a roller compacted concrete (RCC) detention dam upstream of Jermyn Borough (in Carbondale Township) which would replace the previously-existing Rushbrook Dam which was breached in November 2010, and to construct a trapezoidal channel through Jermyn Borough with a natural invert, and 2:1 side slope banks stabilized with vegetated turf reinforced mats. This alternative also included the installation of a trash rack and short low levee. The PROS of this alternative include the likelihood that the alternative would solve the downstream flooding problem, Rushbrook Creek would have a lower peak flow downstream of the dam, and the wild trout and macroinvertebrate life impacts would be minimal. The CONS include the high costs involved for land acquisition, to include the property of the proposed dam (must be acquired in Fee Simple), consisting of approximately four (4) properties and removal of associated structures. Additionally, this alternative would require a width of approximately 40 feet along the stream channel which would result in most adjacent properties to lose 10 or more feet of currently usable property. Also, this alternative would result in an impoundment of the Cold Water Fishery stream.
Alternative 3: The applicant also investigated a natural flood control channel alternative. This alternative would involve the construction of a natural stream restoration design consisting of an approximately 84-foot-wide by 7-foot-deep channel, with 1.5:1 side slopes, a natural low-flow channel measuring approximately 33 feet wide by 1.5 feet deep within the flood control channel, five (5) bridges spanning 100 feet, and a short low levee. The PROS for this alternative include the stream being restored to a natural system, and minimal impacts to the wild trout population and macroinvertebrate life upon completion of the project. The CONS include the high land acquisition costs due to the necessity that Jermyn Borough purchase approximately 13 properties and remove 13 existing houses, with multiple other adjacent properties losing land. This would be necessary in order to meet the required widths to construct the natural stream channel in comparison with the existing conditions and location of the stream channel through Jermyn Borough. Also, the costs associated with the 100-foot-span bridge are estimated to exceed approximately $750,000. Maintenance needs of this alternative are higher, and the Borough has concerns that this alternative would not provide the necessary flood control for the community.
Alternative 4: This alternative involved an 8-foot by 6-foot precast box culvert diversion under Rush Brook Street, a trash rack system, and a short low levee. The diversion culvert would remain dry until a 10-year event is exceeded. During a 10-year event, the flow would split between the existing undisturbed stream channel through Jermyn Borough and the diversion culvert. During a 100-year event, the flow would be divided equally between the undisturbed stream channel and the diversion culvert. The PROS for this alternative include that the majority of the work would be performed within the Rushbrook Street Right of Way, the need for land acquisition would be less, and maintenance would be low. Additionally, the wild trout population and macroinvertebrate life would have minor impacts during construction but would recover. The CONS include the high costs of construction due to the culvert installation requiring that Rushbrook Street be reconstructed to PennDOT specifications. Also, safety grab chains would not be installed due to the likelihood that debris would obstruct the culvert entrance, which poses concerns to human safety during high flows and the potential of being trapped in the culvert.
Alternative 5: Another alternative that was investigated is the installation of five (5) V-bottom precast concrete box culverts, a trapezoidal channel with a natural invert, vegetated turf reinforced mats along constructed 1.5:1 side slopes, a 150-foot-long concrete channel with 150-foot-long concrete wall on the upstream side of the S.R. 107 bridge, trash rack system, and short low levee. The PROS for this alternative include the low costs of construction, potentially the least impact on adjacent properties, and minimal impact on the aquatic environment. The CONS include the uncertainty that the turf reinforced mats will not fail during high flow velocities; the need for the Borough to purchase between two (2) and four (4) properties and remove the existing structures; the vegetated side slopes requiring regular maintenance; and the potential that the Washington Street bridge would need to be replaced with a larger structure in order to pass the 100-year discharge, which would require at least one building to be removed, resulting in substantially increased costs.
Alternative 6: Selected alternative.
Alternative 7: The alternative to purchase all properties and remove all structures within the 100-year floodplain of Rushbrook Creek within the Borough or the purchase of all properties and removal of only the structures that sustain flooding on the first floor during a 100-year flood event. The PROS of this alternative include no project maintenance; once the structures are removed, the vacant lots could be used as open space by the Borough; and no impact to the wild trout population and macroinvertebrate life. The CONS for this alternative include the issue that the Capital Budget Funding which is allocated to this project cannot be used for this option. The Borough must pursue buyouts through a Federal program which would require a non-federal cost share. Additionally, the complete buyout of the floodplain properties would result in a severely reduced Borough population and tax revenues. The partial buyout would be less of an impact on the community, but would still result in adverse impacts to Borough population and tax revenues.
Also, the roads, bridges, utilities, and improved lands would still incur damages resulting in costly infrastructures repairs and mud and debris removal by the Borough.
Alternative 8: The alternative of flood proofing of the structures located within the floodplain was also investigated. This alternative would involve raising buildings; blocking off openings in cellar walls; filling basements; and relocating utilities, to include furnaces, water heaters, AC units, fuel tanks, and electric panels to above the 100-year water elevation. The PROS of this alternative include the elimination of or reduced flood damages to structures and their contents, individual property owner flood damage repair costs being reduced, and Federal assistance through FEMA may be available. The CONS include the high costs involved with relocating the utilities and the raising of an average-sized home (estimated costs of $45,000 per home). Also, the flooding issue would not be eliminated, so roads, bridges and utilities are still at risk of damage from flood events, which would incur expenses to the Borough.
Alternative 9: The “No Action” alternative was also investigated. However, this alternative will not result in the necessary protection of the properties from continued flood damage, and the transport of debris and eroded material downstream will continue.
Therefore, the selected alternative, as identified in the “Proposed Work” section of this Public Notice has been determined by the applicant to be the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative to provide permanent flood protection after taking into consideration construction costs, logistics, and existing technology in light of the overall project purpose.
MITIGATION STATEMENT: No mitigation is proposed for project impacts. As stated, the applicant has determined that this selected alternative is the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative to provide permanent flood protection after taking into consideration construction costs, logistics, and existing technology in light of the overall project purpose. The applicant also states that by constructing walls along the left and right streambanks and leaving the stream invert in its natural state, except at the culverts, it is believed that adverse impacts from the proposed project have been avoided and minimized. Additionally, the applicant states that the proposed culvert replacements provide alternating baffles along the invert that are designed to PennDOT standards which are spelled out in the “Joint Agency Guidance for the Analysis of Environmental Impacts and Other issues for Short Span Structures” which will allow passive sediment build-up along the culvert invert. Also, the applicant has concluded that unavoidable adverse effects from construction of the proposed project will be temporary and that there will be no permanent loss of aquatic resource function and services after natural flow is restored in Rushbrook Creek when the project is completed. The applicant concludes with the statement that since the project will not result in permanent losses of aquatic resource functions and services, no compensatory mitigation is required under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.
All work is proposed to be completed in accordance with the closed plan(s). If you have any questions concerning this matter, please contact Mrs. Tarrie Ostrofsky at 570-835-4263 by phone, 570-835-5422 by FAX, Tarrie.L.Ostrofsky@usace.army.mil by e-mail or 1631 South Atherton Street, Suite 101, State College, Pennsylvania 16801-6260 by mail.
The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts, 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 reasonable 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, economic, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, cultural values, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, flood plain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, and consideration 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 provided will become part of the public record for this action. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT: The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA), as amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 (Public Law 04-267), requires all Federal agencies to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on all actions, or proposed actions, permitted, funded, or undertaken by the agency that may adversely effect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). The Corps has determined this project will not affect any EFH.
WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION: The applicant is required to obtain a water quality certification in accordance with Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The Section 401 certifying agency has a statutory limit of one year from the date of this public notice to make its decision.
COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS: Where applicable, the applicant has certified in this application that the proposed activity complies with and will be conducted in a manner consistent with the approved Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program. By this public notice, we are requesting the State concurrence or objection to the applicant’s consistency statement. It should be noted that the CZM Program has a statutory limit of 6 months to make its consistency determination.
The applicant must obtain any State or local government permits which may be required.
A preliminary review of this application indicates that the proposed work will not affect Federal listed threatened or endangered species or their critical habitat, pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, as amended. Additionally, the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory Environmental Review was performed on July 20, 2012 with the search resulting in the findings of no anticipated impacts to threatened and endangered and/or special concern species and resources. However, the designated water quality use of Rushbrook Creek in accordance with Chapter 93 is a Cold Water Fishery. In 1997 the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission determined that Rushbrook Creek supports a wild trout population from its mouth to the upstream limit delineated by the Rushbrook Dam and that wild trout still occupy Rushbrook Creek within the project area. As the evaluation of this application continues, additional information may become available which could modify this preliminary determination.
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), in a letter dated October 11, 2012, has indicated that in the opinion of the PHMC, no archaeological resources will be affected by this project. Also included in the October 11, 2012 letter, the PHMC states that one property which is listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places is located near the project area. However, in the opinion of the PHMC, the activity described in the proposal will have no effect on such resources. Also, if the scope and/or nature of the project activities should change, the Bureau of Historic Preservation would require additional review. Currently unknown archeological, scientific, prehistoric, or historical data may be lost or destroyed by the work to be accomplished under the request permit.
The evaluation of the impact of this project on the public interest will include application of the guidelines promulgated by the Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under authority of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.
Any person who has an interest which may be adversely affected by the issuance of this permit may request a public hearing. The request, which must be in writing, must be received by the District Engineer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, Attn: Mrs. Tarrie Ostrofsky, State College Field Office, 1631 South Atherton Street, Suite 101, State College, Pennsylvania 16801, within the comment period as specified above to receive consideration. Also it must clearly set forth the interest which may be adversely affected by this activity and the manner in which the interest may be adversely affected.
It is requested that you communicate this information concerning the proposed work to any persons know by you to be interested and not being known to this office, who did not receive a copy of this notice.
Written comments concerning the work described above related to the factors listed above or other pertinent factors must be received within the comment period specified above to receive consideration. Please submit written comments to:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Attn: Mrs. Tarrie Ostrofsky
State College Field Office
1631 South Atherton Street, Suite 101
State College, Pennsylvania 16801
Wade B. Chandler
Chief, Pennsylvania Section