November 2010 TEAC MEETING MINUTES
Date: November 2, 2010
1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
NC Turnpike Authority Board Room (Suite 400)
Project: STIP R-2576 Mid-Currituck Bridge Study
Mid-Currituck Bridge Spotlight:
Attendees:
Bill Biddlecome, USACE
Scott McLendon, USACE
Gary Jordan, USFWS
Chris Militscher, USEPA
Ron Sechler, NMFS (by phone)
George Hoops, FHWA
Amy Simes, NCDENR
Cathy Brittingham, NCDENR-DCM
Kevin Hart, NCDENR-DMF (by phone)
David Wainwright, NCDENR-DWQ
Travis Wilson, NCWRC
Jennifer Harris, NCTA
Ted Devens, NCDOT-PDEA
Brian Yamamoto, NCDOT-PDEA
Doug Taylor, NCDOT-Roadway Design
Tony Houser, NCDOT-Roadway Design
Jose Luque, CDG-ACSID
Bernardo Palicio, CDG-Dragados USA
James Hinda, CDG-Dragados USA
Roy Bruce, CDG-Lochner
Steve Browde, CDG-Lochner
Ron Ferrell, CDG-PBS&J
Tracy Roberts, HNTB
John Burris, HNTB
Spencer Franklin, HNTB
Neal Williams, CDG-Weeks Marine
John Page, PB
Bobby Norburn, PB
Persons Who Were Provided Materials but Were Unable to Attend:
Steve Lambert, Albemarle Commission
Bill Brazier, USCG
Ted Bisterfield, USEPA
Jim Hoadley, NCDENR-DCM
Sara Winslow, NCDENR-DMF
Brian Wrenn, NCDENR-DWQ
Peter Sandbeck, NCDCR-HPO
Renee Gledhill-Early, NCDCR-HPO

Presentation Materials: (All materials posted on the TEAC website)
· Meeting Agenda
· Preferred Alternative Report (including previous and new handouts)
· Assessment of Maple Swamp Groundwater System (Handout 28)
· Supplemental Assessment of Mid-Currituck Bridge Impacts to Flood Elevations in Maple Swamp (Handout 29)
· PowerPoint slides

Purpose:
Discuss new studies of groundwater and surface water hydrology in Maple Swamp and FHWA/NCTA’s Preferred Alternative.

General Discussion:
The following information was discussed at the meeting:
· Introduction and Previous Meeting Comments – Tracy Roberts opened the meeting by noting meeting handouts and asking the attendees to introduce themselves. He also reviewed the
meeting agenda. John Page started the slide presentation and asked if there were any comments on the September 8 meeting handouts. Kevin Hart and Ron Sechler said they are going to send written comments on the September 8 and November 2 meeting handouts. Bill Biddlecome also said that he already sent NCTA his comments on the September 8 handouts, but NCTA has not received them yet. (Bill had a copy of his comments and copies were made and distributed to the
meeting attendees.) Travis Wilson and Cathy Brittingham also will be providing comments on the September 8 meeting handouts.

The October 1, 2010 meeting between NCTA and NCDENR-DWQ to discuss storm water management strategy was briefly discussed. David Wainwright asked about storm water collection over Maple Swamp and NCTA’s proposal for direct discharge. He wants more information on why the first 1.5 inches of storm water over Maple Swamp cannot be treated (i.e., why treatment would be impractical or a hardship) before he supplies comments. Chris Militscher said that USEPA would provide comments once his agency receives the FEIS.

· Handout 28 – John went through the slide for Handout 28. He said that he would be brief unless there were specific questions. He said that existing groundwater levels likely show only minimal elevation changes. In addition, groundwater flows are quite small. The bottom line is that with a Maple Swamp crossing design that maintains surface water hydrology, groundwater flows and levels would not be affected by fill. In response to a question, he noted the amount of soil that would be mucked out for fill sections in the swamp would range from 2 to 5 feet. John asked if there were any questions on Handout 28 – there were none.

· Handout 29 – John went through the slide for Handout 29. He said that in response to agency comments, NCTA conducted revised Maple Swamp floodplain studies based on a more detailed location survey, recent logging in the swamp, and a range of bridge and fill length alternatives. The results of the revised studies indicated that a minimum 2,500-foot bridge in the central to eastern part of Maple Swamp would result in no impact on floodwater elevation. John asked if there were any questions on Handout 29 – there were none.

· Preferred Alternative Report – John addressed the Preferred Alternative Report. He indicated that NCTA’s recommended Preferred Alternative is MCB4/C1 with refinements to respond to agency and public comments on the DEIS alternatives, as well as to avoid and minimize impacts. He reviewed the components of the recommended Preferred Alternative, including: reversing center turn lane along US 158 for hurricane evacuation between the bridge interchange and NC 168; the addition of approximately 1,600 feet of third outbound lane for hurricane evacuation on US 158 on the Outer Banks to the west of NC 12; the use of Option B’s more compact US 158/Mid-Currituck Bridge interchange; a median acceleration lane for left turns at the US158/Waterlily Road intersection; a 2,640-foot-long bridge in Maple Swamp (the Option A bridge was 7,913 feet and Option B was 360 feet); a linear toll plaza on fill in Maple Swamp to the west of the Maple Swamp bridge; a 2-lane road on fill between the Maple Swamp bridge and the sound bridge; the retention of Aydlett Road in its current location; a straight Mid-Currituck Bridge that avoids coastal marsh and reduces SAV impact at its eastern terminus at NC 12; provisions for bicycles and pedestrians on the bridge; roundabouts on NC 12 at the intersections with the bridge and Currituck Clubhouse Drive; less 4-lane widening on NC 12; and marked pedestrian crossings on NC 12. In response to a question about wildlife underpasses in Maple Swamp, John said that additional wildlife underpasses are being considered. John showed a slide that compared the refined C1 terminus on the Outer Banks to the DEIS C1 terminus. He discussed that the realigned terminus using the roundabout avoids wetlands in the bridge terminus area, which reduced wetland impacts on the Outer Banks by 4 acres to about 1 acre. The refined alignment also avoids the already developed portion of the Corolla Bay subdivision.

Roy Bruce discussed the three slides related to Mid-Currituck Bridge construction procedures with the recommended Preferred Alternative. He discussed that, as shown on the slides, dredged areas have been reduced on the east with the refined alignment for the recommended
Preferred Alternative. He discussed the slide showing the quantities of dredging needed with the DEIS and refined C1 alignments, as well as the proposed supply dock. As shown on the slide, the refined C1 alignment has substantially less dredging impacts than the DEIS C1 alignment. However, although the design of the supply dock has not been revised yet, the anticipated dredging impacts for the supply dock are up based on a new bathymetric survey that NCTA recently completed. Roy said that NCTA is looking at options to refine the design of the supply operation based on the new survey data to reduce dredging impacts, so this issue will be further discussed with the agencies at a future meeting. Several agencies commented on the extent of the supply dock dredging impacts, so Roy reiterated that NCTA will attempt to refine the plan and reduce these impacts.

John noted the benefits of the recommended Preferred Alternative (MCB4/C1 with refinements), as follows: substantial congestion reduction and travel time benefits; components avoid and minimize natural resource and community impacts; bridge conforms to area land use plans; and can be financed. He then discussed the natural resources benefits and impacts of the recommended Preferred Alternative as shown on 4 slides (see attached). Jennifer Harris asked
John to explain in more detail the pictures on two of the slides showing logged areas in Maple Swamp. John said these are August 2010 pictures showing the extensive logging that has recently occurred in the swamp. John discussed the slide summarizing community impacts with the recommended Preferred Alternative (see attached), as well as the slide discussing historic resources impacts (see attached) and navigation span length in Currituck Sound (i.e., a single 35-foot-long navigation span in the deepest part of Currituck Sound). Bill Biddlecome asked about the navigation span length and whether NCTA has talked to the USACE navigation section. It was discussed that NCTA has coordinated with the US Coast Guard about navigation span issues, but not USACE. It was noted that there is no maintained channel in the sound to the north of the proposed bridge. Bill will provide NCTA with a contact at USACE to coordinate with on navigation issues – it will be the same contact at USACE that NCDOT coordinated with during the Bonner Bridge replacement project development.

· General Discussion – Chris Militscher noted a difference in the dredging volumes shown in the Preferred Alternative Report (page 7) versus what is shown on the slides. Roy responded that the slides are correct and that they reflect new numbers based on new survey data received after preparation of the Preferred Alternative Report. Chris Militscher asked for more details on the supply dock. Roy explained that the supply dock location is independent of the design and location of the C1 alignment and that NCTA is looking at different options for its location. The impacts shown on the slide are likely the worst-case impacts of the supply dock. He said that NCTA realizes that the currently calculated impacts for the supply dock are substantial, so different alternatives are being considered to minimize or avoid these impacts. Chris summarized the worst-case impacts with the supply dock as presented during the slide show. Jennifer Harris noted that the refined C1 alignment reduces
impacts, including dredging. Ron Sechler asked to see the slide again showing the location of the supply dock. As shown on the slide, it was discussed that it is only on the mainland (i.e., a supply dock is not needed on the Outer Banks side) in an area of vacant land, but Roy reiterated that NCTA is looking at other location options and designs to reduce impacts further. Chris Militscher asked if NCTA had talked to the NCDOT Natural Environment Unit about the dredging spoil disposal site mentioned on page 20 of the report (i.e., the existing borrow pit east of US 158 and north of Aydlett Road in Coinjock). Jennifer Harris responded not yet. Chris asked where the borrow for the fill in the swamp is coming from. Roy Bruce responded that there are some possible upland sites that NCTA is considering, but nothing definitive yet. Kevin Hart asked about the type of construction barge that would be used. Roy described the currently anticipated barge type. Kevin asked about the amount of displacement for these barges. Neal Williams responded that the barges need approximately 1.5 feet of draft when empty and 3 to 4 feet when loaded.

Kevin Hart asked about SAV impacts with the refined C1 alignment. Roy responded that the bridge is shorter over SAV with the refined alignment, but NCTA needs to review the recently updated SAV survey prepared by East Carolina University to determine the exact impacts. It was discussed that there could potentially be new SAV on the west side of the sound at the proposed supply dock location. In addition, SAV on the east side of the sound could possibly have temporarily receded at the bridge terminus. Kevin said that any areas of the sound with temporarily receded SAV would still be considered habitat, even if SAV is not currently present. John Page discussed the location of the refined alignment in relationship to known SAV habitat and the depth of the sound. He said that there is less shallow water along the refined C1 alignment and less known SAV. In addition, we are bridging the known areas of SAV on the east side of the sound. Therefore, NCTA thinks there is now less SAV impact than with the DEIS C1 alignment.
Travis Wilson asked about the survey dates for the SAV and bathymetric data shown on the slides. Roy said the bathymetric survey data shown on the slides is the current data from Fall 2010, but the SAV data is based on the 2007 USACE SAV surveys. It was discussed that dredging is being proposed only where it is needed to provide 6 feet of depth and where there is no SAV present. Jennifer Harris said one way to picture the relatively limited extent of the
proposed dredging is that it is intended to smooth out some bumps on the sound bottom, but will not be widespread.

Cathy Brittingham read to the group from the NC Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) rules on dredging. She asked Kevin Hart for clarification of the DMF rules related to dredging in or near SAV beds. Kevin said he will find these rules and provide them to the group. It was discussed that both the MFC and DMF rules apply to the proposed project.

Gary Jordan referenced the text on page 31 of the Preferred Alternative Report that discusses avoiding and minimizing wetland fill impacts as an important consideration to take into account when making design revisions. He asked specifically what is the amount of wetland impacts savings between the DEIS alternatives and the recommended Preferred Alternative. He noted that the wetland impacts savings between Option B and Option C (i.e., the recommended
Preferred Alternative) did not seem to add up based on the Option C Maple Swamp bridge length of 2,640 feet. It was discussed that the net reduction in impacted wetland in Maple Swamp with the recommended Preferred Alternative is smaller than expected because of the presence of the linear toll plaza in the swamp.

Bill Biddlecome asked how the wetland impact acreages on page 18 of the Preferred Alternative Report were calculated. John Page said the impacts were determined based on the slope-stake line plus an additional 25-foot buffer. John said that Table 3-9 of the DEIS (page 3-44) confirms the wetland impact acreages shown on page 18 of the Preferred Alternative Report. The bottom row of Table 3-9 shows “Wetland within Slope-Stake Line, plus Additional 25-foot buffer.” The
definition of and reason for using “slope-stakes plus 25” was discussed. Gary Jordan said he would like to see an explanation of the reason for using “slope-stakes plus 25” to calculate wetland impacts included in DEIS Table 3-9, as well as in the Preferred Alternative Report. Bill Biddlecome asked how much would using MCB4/A/C1 with the design refinements made for the recommended Preferred Alternative reduce the wetland impacts. It was noted that the
reduction on the Outer Banks with the NC 12 refinements was 4 acres, but the Waterlily Road safety feature would add about 0.5 acre. Thus, with these changes, the MCB4/A/C1 impacts would be about 3.5 acres less than the 10.6 acres in the DEIS or 7.1 acres.

The issue of providing cost savings by making further refinements to the alternatives was discussed. It was noted that the costs in the Preferred Alternative Report are not for the revised alternatives. Roy Bruce said he thinks the cost difference between revised MCB4/A/C1 and the recommended Preferred Alternative is about $50 million. The recommended Preferred Alternative saves about $50 million, but impacts approximately 20 acres more of wetland, all in Maple Swamp. Roy said that using dredging provides another roughly $30 million in savings. Jennifer and Roy further discussed the cost savings provided by dredging, but also noted that NCTA is interested in pursuing other possible construction methods that would save money while also reducing dredging. Cathy Brittingham asked if it would be possible to use sunken barges. It was discussed that this is not possible because the type of barge that could be sunk would have to be brought into place from the Intracoastal Waterway, which would add dredging impacts.

Chris Militscher asked about the typical section of the proposed road on fill through Maple Swamp. It was discussed that the typical section for the Option B road on fill (not including the toll plaza) through Maple Swamp would include two 12-foot lanes with 10-foot outside shoulders
and no median. However, subsequent to the meeting, further review of the typical section for the road on fill through the swamp as shown on the Public Hearing Maps indicated that the outside shoulder width to the start of the fill slope is 11 feet, with 8 feet between the edge of the travel lane and the face of the guardrail (including a 6-foot paved shoulder), so the total section width is 46 feet plus the fill slope.
Gary Jordan asked about the vertical clearance of the Option C bridge through Maple Swamp. Roy Bruce responded that the vertical clearance is about 10 feet from the ground to the bottom of the structure.

Kevin Hart asked if there will be other openings under the proposed project in the swamp. It was discussed that there will be hydraulic equalizer pipes through fill sections to maintain surface water flow, but they have not been designed yet.

Jennifer Harris asked if the discussions today helped to address some of the comments in the USACE letter. It was indicated that today’s discussions helped to address some of the USACE comments, but additional information is still needed to answer some comments. It was again noted that unfortunately NCTA did not receive the mailed copy of the letter prior to today’s meeting. Bill Biddlecome said that the letter is based in part on their initial review of the Preferred
Alternative Report.

Cathy Brittingham asked what the vertical clearance of the new sound bridge would be outside of the navigation span. Roy Bruce responded that there would be about 16 feet of clearance from the water level to the bottom of the girders. It was discussed that DCM requires the maintenance of existing navigation uses of the sound. Roy said the proposed bridge would be higher than the typical clearance height for the Wright Memorial Bridge. It was also noted that it is difficult to
navigate north-south in Currituck Sound because it is so shallow in some areas in the middle of the sound (only 1 to 2 feet deep).
Bill Biddlecome asked if NCTA was going to revise the Preferred Alternative Report. Jennifer Harris responded yes based on comments made by the agencies and the need to update the dredging impact information. Jennifer stated that NCTA will continue avoidance and
minimizations efforts to make the recommended Preferred Alternative more competitive with ER2 from a wetland impacts perspective to address agency concerns, and noted that resolving this issue also could lead to further revisions to the report. Scott McLendon said to not keep revising the report if the Preferred Alternative is still a moving target. Jennifer agreed that revisions would not be made to the recommended Preferred Alternative until comments were received on the current report and discussed. Travis Wilson and Cathy Brittingham would like to have the report updated to reflect the updated dredging information for the revised C1 alignment presented in the slide show and to be provided with at least the updated pages (i.e., something more user friendly than the slides). It was agreed that the Word file would be updated using track changes and posted on the TEAC web site.

· Next Steps – Cathy Brittingham asked about the date for the next TEAC meeting. Scott McLendon said he thought we were still far enough apart on the selection of the Preferred
Alternative that another meeting is not needed until NCTA answers USACE’s funding concerns. Jennifer said she would rather answer all agency comments at once before the next meeting, so comments are needed from the other agencies.

Scott McLendon asked if there were any looming financing issues that required a quick decision on the Preferred Alternative (similar to the Monroe Bypass project). Jennifer responded that there were none but that a decision should be made as quickly as possible. She added that
NCTA would continue to refine the Preferred Alternative to try to minimize impacts, as well as continue to attempt to explain ER2 funding problems to answer the USACE concerns.

It was discussed that the agencies will provide comments within 30 days, so there will probably not be a December TEAC meeting (i.e., not enough time for NCTA to digest and respond to comments before the meeting). The agencies agreed to provide comments by December 3.
Scott said he thinks we are getting close to either agreeing on a Preferred Alternative, or not being able to agree.

The meeting concluded at 2:55 PM.