This serves as notification from the Coastal Marshlands Protection Committee and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources of a request from CSX Transportation, Inc. (CSXT) for a Coastal Marshlands Protection Act (CMPA) Permit under O.C.G.A. 12-5-280 et. seq. to replace and maintain an existing rail bridge and fill coastal marshlands to construct an access road for railroad activities along an existing rail line located on the Little Ogeechee River, Chatham County, Georgia.
Replacement of the existing bridge structure at Milepost 507.2 on the Little Ogeechee River was authorized February 11, 2016 by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The applicant asserts site conditions were determined to be too challenging for the authorized bridge replacement project and work never commenced.
The applicant is currently proposing the construction of a +/- 2,520ft. X 52ft. temporary vehicular access road adjacent to and west of the existing CSX S line rail bed north of State Road 204. The applicant states the proposed project will afford workers safe ingress and egress to remove, replace, and maintain the existing bridge. The temporary access roadbed is measured from the centerline of the existing rail bed and will vary in width from 54ft. to 43ft. to accommodate a 30ft. travel-way for heavy equipment and construction supplies. The access road will be constructed using filter fabric, soil/backfill and a layer of stone/gravel. Impacts from the temporary access road total approximately 0.85 acres of vegetated coastal marshlands.
To construct the new CSXT bridge, a temporary 150ft. X 52ft. staging area with a 48ft. wide work area and 45ft. wide laydown area will be constructed at the northern terminus of the temporary+/- 2,520ft. X 52ft.access road. Additionally, a work platform will be built on the west side of the existing 368ft. x 14ft., 13-span, single track, timber bridge. The platform will extend north from the staging area and will measure approximately 365ft. x 24ft. The new 342ft. long, single track, concrete pile bridge will be constructed within the limits of the existing bridge, along the existing track alignment. The proposed under clearance at Ordinary High Water is approximately 5 inches less at the channel span than the current under clearance at the same location. Upon completion of the placement of the new spans, the old timber bents will be removed to approximately 1-ft below the ground line and disposed of in an appropriate upland disposal area. A rip rap apron will be replaced under the bridge to protect the end bents and stabilize the shaded area. Bridge construction will be done on-line, phased between train traffic. The scheduled project construction timeline is approximately 18 months. As proposed, the CSXT temporary construction access road and staging area will fill approximately 1.48 acres of vegetated coastal marshlands.
Upon completion of the replacement bridge, approximately 0.85 acres of fill (gravel and soil materials within the staging area and temporary access road) will be removed and disposed of at an appropriate upland disposal area. If the temporarily impacted area does not revegetate within 1 year of removal, the applicant will propose a revegetation plan for approval by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
In order to safely conduct regular maintenance and repairs on the bridge, CSXT is proposing to maintain a 14ft. wide travelway that will require a +/-2,520ft x 20ft.permanent maintenance road adjacent to the existing railbed. Impacts from the permanent access road total approximately 0.63 acres of vegetated coastal marshlands.
Total impacts to CMPA jurisdiction for temporary and permanent structures associated with the CSXT bridge and maintenance road are approximately 1.48 acres. Permanent impacts to vegetated coastal marshlands total approximately 0.63 acres.
The applicant has stated that the project contains an upland component that consists of the existing CSX railroad railbed paralleling the +/- 2,520 ft. vehicular access road.
It is the responsibility of the applicant to demonstrate that the project is not contrary to the public interest and that no feasible alternative sites exist. Impacts to coastal marshlands must be minimal in size. In passing upon the application for permit, the Coastal Marshlands Protection Committee shall consider the public interest: (1) Whether or not unreasonably harmful obstruction to or alteration of the natural flow of navigational water within the affected area will arise as a result of the proposal; (2) Whether or not unreasonably harmful or increased erosion, shoaling of channels, or stagnant areas of water will be created; and (3) Whether or not the granting of a permit and the completion of the applicant’s proposal will unreasonably interfere with the conservation of fish, shrimp, oysters, crabs, clams, or other marine life, wildlife, or other resources, including but not limited to water and oxygen supply.
Please provide this office with substantive, project-specific comments as to why the proposed work should or should not proceed. Comments and questions concerning this proposed project should be submitted in writing by the close of business May 24, 2018 to Deb Barreiro, Department of Natural Resources, 185 Richard Davis Drive, Suite 104, Richmond Hill, Georgia 31324.