This serves as notification from the Coastal Marshlands Protection Committee and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources of a request from Chatham County Department of Engineering for a Coastal Marshlands Protection Act (CMPA) permit under Official Code of Georgia (O.C.G.A.) 12-5-280 et seq., to construct and maintain improvements to existing county roadway and drainage infrastructure associated with Islands Expressway, Wilmington River and Richardson Creek, Chatham County, Georgia.
Islands Expressway provides vehicular access from Tybee, Wilmington, Whitemarsh, Talahi, and Oatland Islands to the Chatham County mainland. Islands Expressway is heavily utilized daily by residents as a primary commuter route, and seasonally by day trippers accessing Tybee Island beaches. The project area for the Chatham County maintained road is 28.59 acres across Oatland Island, and includes 7.61 acres of CMPA jurisdictional coastal marshlands. The project is located approximately 0.66 mile east from the Georgia Department of Transportation’s (GDOT) Wilmington River Bridge Replacement project to the Richardson Creek Bridge. The existing road consists of four (4) 12ft. wide, paved travel lanes and a 25ft. wide grassed median. The two outer travel lanes directly abut unimproved, grassed shoulders with associated drainage swales. Turn lanes from the east bound travel corridor provide access to Oatland Island Road to the north, and Barley Drive to the south.
The applicant is proposing improvements to the existing roadway to enhance safety, efficiency, and drainage. The proposed project includes the addition of 2ft. wide paved shoulders to both the inside and outside of the eastbound and westbound travel corridors, closing two existing vehicular access roads, improving a centralized access road, and replacing existing guardrails. The project also includes maintenance of existing drainage features by cleaning and re-grading swales, inlets, and maintaining existing stabilized outfall structures.
On the west side of the project corridor associated with the Wilmington River, corrections to elevation of the roadbed will require fill of CMPA jurisdictional coastal marshlands within areas depicted as Wetland A and Wetland B on the project drawings, to raise the perimeter of the paved road while creating a 2ft. paved shoulder and a 2ft. grass shoulder with a 2:1 slope along the north and south sides of each travel corridor. No improvements are proposed to the existing sixty inch (60in.) reinforced concrete pipe, headwall and associated rip rap within the western limits of the project area. Minor re-grading of existing roadside drainage swales is also proposed. Total impacts for fill associated with improvements to the road elevation and shoulders within Wetland A (approximately 50cy) and Wetland B (approximately 110cy) are approximately 5,225sq.ft. (0.12 acre) (160cy).
On the eastern side of the project corridor associated with Richardson Creek, improvements include approximately 80cy of fill of CMPA jurisdictional coastal marshlands, within the area depicted as Wetland F on the project drawings, to create a 2ft. paved shoulder and a 2ft. grass shoulder with a 2:1 slope along the north and south sides of each travel corridor. Minor re-grading of existing roadside ditches adjacent to Oatland Island Road and Barley Drive (Wetland F) is also proposed. Total impacts associated with improvements to the existing road shoulder within Wetland F are approximately 1,960sq.ft. (0.045 acre) (80cy).
Improvements also include replacement of existing guardrails along Islands Expressway and Oatland Island Road and re-grading of existing roadside drainage swales along the entire project corridor. Temporary impacts associated with re-grading and other construction related activities are approximately 28,794sq.ft. (0.661 acre).
As proposed, the project will consist of temporary impacts of approximately 28,794 sq.ft. (0.661 acre), approximately 240 cubic yards of fill, and permanent impacts of approximately 7,185sq.ft. (0.165 acre) to CMPA jurisdictional coastal marshlands.
The applicant has stated that the project does not contain an upland component.
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 applicants 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.
A detailed public notice with drawings has been distributed and is available by visiting the Department of Natural Resources website: CoastalGaDNR.org under “Public Notices.”
Please provide this office with substantive, site-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 and be submitted by the close of business on November 1, 2021 to Deb Barreiro, Department of Natural Resources, 185 Richard Davis Drive, Suite 104, Richmond Hill, Georgia 31324.