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Finding of No Significant Impact

Adoption and supplementation of the Environmental Assessments of the Federal Highway Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) State Route 13 improvements

Request for 24 acres of TVA property on Upper Bear Creek Reservoir and Section 26a approval to construct two bridges and ten stream crossings in Franklin County

Background
Alternatives and Impact Assessment
Conclusion and Findings
Link to EA

Background

ALDOT has requested a permanent easement over 24 acres of TVA land on Upper Bear Creek Reservoir and Section 26a approval for twelve stream crossings in the Tennessee River watershed. ALDOT proposes to upgrade SR 13 (previously SR 5) through the construction of a new four-lane facility between Delmar in Winston County, Alabama, and Spruce Pine in Franklin County, Alabama. SR 13 is currently a major north-south route located in northwest Alabama and is currently a two-lane facility between Phil Campbell and Haleyville. TVA proposes to approve the proposed permanent easement and issue Section 26a approval for ten stream crossings and for two bridges over Upper Bear Reservoir.

Planning and development of the SR 13 project has been ongoing for a number of years. In 1988, the Federal Highway Administration and Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) completed an Environmental Assessment (EA) and FONSI for Project F-393(3), State Road 5, Marion and Franklin Counties. In 1998, they reviewed the 1988 EA and concluded that its impact assessment was still valid (Project F-393(3), reevaluation of Proposed Corridor for State Route 13 Between Dime and Spruce Pine, Franklin County, Alabama). The reevaluation considered the impacts of a realignment that included crossings of Gas Branch and Little Bear Creek. In addition, ALDOT applied for Section 404 permits in 2001 associated with stream crossings of tributary streams within the Bear Creek watershed. A USACE EA and FONSI was completed in May 2001 on ten stream crossings and wetland fills for the portion of the project between Dime and Spruce Pine. Permit applications have not been submitted for the southernmost portion of SR 13 between Dime and Haleyville.

In 2001, TVA completed the Bear Creek Reservoirs Land Management Plan (TVA, 2001). The Proposed Action affects portions of three Bear Creek Land Management Plan planned tracts; BCCUR-40PT, -50PT, and -53PT (Figure 1. See Note on how to obtain copies of figures and appendices). The land requested by ALDOT is currently allocated to Zone 3 - Sensitive Resource Management. These allocation decisions were based from data collected in 1999 during the Lands Planning Process. As a result of the data collection process, sensitive resources, including rare plants and animals, archaeological resources, wetlands, and visual resources were identified on these tracts.

Upon review of the information collected in the lands planning process, TVA determined that it was necessary to supplement the FHWA and USACE NEPA documents in order to better understand the impacts of its proposed actions to approve land easements and Section 26a permit applications. TVA has decided to adopt the FHWA and USACE EAs, as supplemented by its own independent assessment of impacts.

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Alternatives and Impact Assessment

The TVA Supplemental EA evaluates the potential environmental impacts of two alternatives. Under No Action, the easement would not be granted and the 24 acres under consideration for the proposed bridge crossings would remain in their current allocations, as designated by the Bear Creek Reservoirs Land Use Plan of 2001. The current allocation is Sensitive Resource Management. TVA would continue to manage the land for sensitive resource protection. No additional impacts to environmental resources would be expected under No Action. However, ALDOT would not be able to complete upgrade on SR 13, which is already under construction.

Under the Proposed Action, TVA would grant a permanent easement to ALDOT and issue 26a approval for ten stream crossings and the two bridge crossings. If the easement was granted, it is expected that ALDOT would complete the upgrade for SR 13.

TVA has evaluated the impacts of this proposed action and determined that the commitments identified in Section 7.0 of the attached EA are necessary to avoid significant impacts. Accordingly, TVA would include commitments in its easement and Section 26a permits to require these mitigation measures. With the implementation of these commitments, TVA concludes that there would be no adverse effect.

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Conclusion and Findings

Based on the EA, we conclude that approval of a permanent easement over 24 acres of the Upper Bear Creek Reservoir, and the issuance of Section 26a approval for the crossings of Dime Spring Branch, Little Bear Creek (Upper Bear Creek Reservoir), Gas Branch, Reedy Branch, Sandpit Branch, and Little Bear Creek associated with the construction of Alabama SR 13 between Dime and Spruce Pine would not be a major Federal action significantly affecting the environment. Accordingly, an environmental impact statement is not required. This FONSI is contingent upon adherence to the mitigation measures listed in the attached EA.

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

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Link to the final Environmental Assessment (PDF file,172 kb, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).

Note: To request a printed copy of the final EA or copies of the appendices or figures, please contact:

Harold M. Draper, NEPA Specialist
Environmental Policy and Planning
Tennessee Valley Authority
400 West Summit Hill Dr., WT 8C
Knoxville, TN 37902-1499
865-632-6889
E-mail: hmdraper@tva.gov

 

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