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Finding of No Significant Impact

Section 26a approval for five stream crossings associated with improvements to U.S. 25 (State Route 32) from south of Little Sycamore Creek to south of State Route 33 in Claiborne County, Tennessee

Tennessee Department of Transportation

Proposed Action
Alternatives
Impacts Assessment
TVA Review and Mitigation
Conclusion and Findings

Proposed Action

TVA proposes to approve Section 26a applications for four stream crossings and a channel relocation associated with improvements to U.S. 25 (State Route 32) from south of Little Sycamore Creek to south of State Route (SR) 33 near Tazewell. On June 3, 2002, TVA received a 26a application from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) in regard to the referenced project.

This project is part of Corridor “S” in the Appalachian System and is designated as Section 3 in the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Environmental Assessment (EA) and FONSI dated September 18, 1995. Section 3 covers the improvement of SR 32 (U.S. 25E) from 0.5 mile north of Indian Creek to 1.0 mile north of the Powell River located in Claiborne County, Tennessee.

TVA Section 26a approvals are needed for the following locations and proposed actions associated with this 3.4-mile section (Section 3) of U.S. 25E widening, listed from east to west:

  • Location 1: Tyes Branch. Extend existing culvert for a total length of 1,324 feet
  • Location 2: Unnamed tributary to Lick Branch. Extend existing culvert for a total of 1,272 feet.
  • Location 3: Russell Creek. Relocate 850 feet of channel.
  • Location 4: Unnamed springs. Install 150-foot culvert.
  • Location 5: Little Spring Creek. Proposed three-span concrete girder bridge.

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Alternatives

The FHWA and TDOT prepared an EA in September 1995 which concluded that construction of a four-lane, divided highway with a median is the recommended alternative for improvement to an 18.2-mile length of U.S. 25E from north of Indian Creek in Grainger County to north of the Powell River in Claiborne County. This project was divided into six sections due to the length and estimated cost of the project and due to the impact of construction. The project is approximately 18.2 miles in length and it involves 66 family relocations and 21 business relocations, with a total estimated project cost of $85,175,000.

In addition to a No Action Alternative, several build alternatives were considered; however, in the area of Section 3, all build alternatives followed the same route along the existing highway. The typical cross-section recommended for Section 3 is four 12-foot traffic lanes (two in each direction separated by a 48-foot median), two 12-foot outside shoulders, and a 250-foot minimum right-of-way. For the proposed action, TVA must decide on either issuance of a permit for the proposal, issuance of a permit with modifications or conditions, or denial of the permit.

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Impacts Assessment

On August 18, 1998, TVA adopted and supplemented the previous reviews of this project, an EA and FONSI dated September 18, 1995, conducted by the FHWA; and an EA and FONSI dated September 2, 1997, conducted by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The analysis of the build alternatives for the entire project concluded that impacts to land use, farmland, socioeconomics, air quality, noise, aesthetics, and floodplains were insignificant. TVA determined that with the implementation of commitments resulting from the reviews of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, FHWA, USACE, and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), all impacts associated with Sections 4, 5, and 6 would be reduced to insignificant levels.

For Section 3 of the project, the impacts of USACE’s proposed actions under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and the FHWA’s proposed actions are essentially the same as TVA’s in providing Section 26a approval for the bridge, channel relocation, and stream crossings. Additionally, TVA has reviewed the Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit (ARAP) issued by the TDEC and believes that the conditions of these approvals would ensure that impacts to water quality and wetlands would be insignificant.

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TVA Review and Mitigation

TVA has independently reviewed the proposed actions for Section 3 of the project. TVA reviewed the accuracy, scope, and content of the FHWA EA and FONSI dated September 18, 1995, as it applies to Section 3 of the project. TVA has reviewed the USACE Nationwide Permit and TDEC ARAP and found that they adequately address the environmental impacts of the proposed actions for Section 3 of the project. TVA believes that the general provisions, the on-site stream mitigation proposed, and the use of the in-lieu fee program for 2,746 feet of culverting included in the ARAP are adequate mitigation for the potential impacts to streams and aquatic habitat. TVA’s Section 26a approval is contingent upon successful implementation of Best Management Practices for erosion and sediment control, including the TVA Standard Conditions 5a through 5e for culverts and Conditions 6a through 6i for construction.

TVA has concluded that the construction of Section 3 would have no adverse effect on historic properties. The project would comply with the requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and be consistent with Executive Order 11988. TVA verified that Claiborne County participates in the NFIP and that construction would be consistent with NFIP requirements.

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Conclusion and Findings

For compliance with Executive Order 11988, culverts, bridges, the grading, and fill associated with bridge approach are considered to be repetitive actions in the floodplain for which there is no practicable alternative.

Based on the USACE and FHWA EAs, TVA’s previous FONSI, and further review, we conclude that the proposed action would not be a major federal action significantly affecting the environment. Accordingly, an Environmental Impact Statement is not required. This FONSI is contingent upon successful implementation of TVA Standard Conditions (5a-e and 6a-i).

Original signed by:
Jon M. Loney
Manager, NEPA Administration
Environmental Policy and Planning
Tennessee Valley Authority

Date: January 16, 2003

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