Touchton Road Roadway Improvements Project

10 12 2006

Located between Southside Boulevard and Belfort Road in Duval County, Touchton Road is a two-laned collector roadway planned for future improvements.

Belfort Road and Touchton Road has become an alternative route for vehicles traversing to the Southpoint and Deerwood Park business areas, which have led to an increase in traffic volume along the roadways during peak hours. The St. John’s Town Center, Tinseltown Theaters, Deerwood Lake Shoppes, and the businesses that are located adjacent to area neighborhoods have spurred development and have changed this area into one of Jakcksonville’s most popular areas for living, shopping, dining and entertainment.

The widening of Touchton Road Roadway Improvements project is sponsored by the Better Jacksonville Plan and is scheduled for completion in Winter 2008. According to the Better Jacksonville Plan website, the project will include approximately 0.8 of a mile of roadway from Belfort Road to Southside Boulevard, planned for two-lane divided section with one-lane roundabouts at both intersections, including curb and gutter, sidewalks, and bike lanes constructed on both sides of Touchton Road.

Site Description:

The proposed construction of Touchton Road Park, a public park will begin in January 2007. The 15.85 acres project site includes 10.69 acres of Hardwood – Conifer Mixed (434), Existing Roads and Highways (814), 1.74 acres of Existing Roadway Drainage Ditch (510), 1.11 acres of Non-Forested Herbaceous Wetlands (640), and 2.31 acres of Mixed Forested Wetlands (630). An assessment of all the onsite wetlands and other surface waters, as well as, the impacts expected as a result of the proposed activities on the values of wetland functions, was done pursuant to 12.2.2.3 of the Applicant’s Handbook. The presence of endangered wildlife species was not observed or reported on the project site.

Impacts:

City of Jacksonville Department of Public Works has proposed to fill 1.11 acres of the herbaceous wetland and 1.74 acres of existing roadway drainage ditch for the widening of Touchton Road. This portion of the wetland is within the existing right-of-way and is maintained as an herbaceous system because of existing utilities. The City of Jacksonville has proposed to impact 0.23 acres forested wetlands to construct an elevated boardwalk to serve a City of Jacksonville Park. The boardwalk will provide public access for recreation and educational viewing. The City of Jacksonville has also proposed to build the 6-foot wide boardwalk within a 10-foot wide cleared area for construction of the structure. The boardwalk will be built with a minimum clearance of 2-feet and a maximum clearance of 4-feet above the wetlands with ¼-inch spacing between boards to help minimize adverse shading impacts and trees with a DBH greater-than 4.5-inches will be avoided.

Secondary Impacts:

The City of Jacksonville has provided additional mitigation to offset all anticipated secondary impacts within the scope of this proposed project.

There will be no impacts to the upland-nesting habitat of listed species that are aquatic or wetland dependent. There will be no impacts to significant historical and archaeological resources that are solely linked and causally related to any proposed dredging or filling of wetlands or other surface waters. The Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources does not indicate concern for the proposed project site, as indicated by letter. There are no wetland impacts that may be caused by future phases of the project or activities that are closely linked or causally related to the project. The proposed project does not include future development parcels that will facilitate future direct or secondary wetland impacts.

Elimination/Reduction of Impacts:

The City of Jacksonville has proposed to comply with section 12.2.1.2(b), A.H., by purchasing 2.04 credits at the Loblolly Mitigation bank. The mitigation implements part of a plan that provides regional ecological value and that provides greater long-term ecological value than the area of wetland or other surface water to be adversely affected. The bank credits are proposed to compensate the adverse impacts associated with the fill impacts proposed for the widening of Touchton Road and the installation of the two (2) small educational boardwalks.

Mitigation:

The City of Jacksonville has proposed to purchase of 2.04 credits at the Loblolly Mitigation Bank to offset the adverse direct and secondary impacts associated with the wetland fill associated with the widening of Touchton Road and the two (2) small educational boardwalks adjacent to the city park. The City has proposed to comply with section 12.2.1.2(b), A.H., by providing mitigation that implements part of a plan that provides regional ecological value and that provides greater long-term ecological value than the area of wetland or other surface water to be adversely affected. Pursuant to 12.2.2.2 of the Applicant’s Handbook, the 1.74 acres of ditch fill do not require mitigation because the ditches are upland-cut and do not provide significant habitat to threatened or endangered species.

The Loblolly Mitigation Bank received mitigation credits based on the assurances that the consolidation of multiple mitigation projects into a larger contiguous area will provide a mitigation area that will yield long-term sustainable, regional ecological benefits. The site forms part of the upper edge of the Black Creek watershed. The site contains the headwaters of Yellow Water Creek and portions of four tributaries to Yellow Water Creek. Most of the site drains eastwardly to Yellow Water Creek, a major tributary of Black Creek. The historic, natural drainage has been altered by the construction of forest roads and ditches. This has resulted in off-site peak flows that occur more rapidly and are of a shorter duration than the historic, natural flows. Specifically, Loblolly Mitigation Bank has proposed to cease silviculture activities, eliminate most planted pines and wetland bedding, restore site hydrology, restore native vegetative communities, eliminate adverse hunting effects, and implement a prescribed burning plan. The restored functional benefits provided by the forested wetlands when compared to the wetlands being impacted should provide for a large connected ecosystem that will provide ecological functions, such as habitat, water quality improvement and flood attenuation to the same receiving water shed as the proposed impacts.

Cumulative Impacts:

Section 12.2.8 A.H. requires applicants to provide reasonable assurances that their projects will not cause unacceptable cumulative impacts upon wetlands and other surface waters within the same drainage basin as the project for which a permit is sought. This analysis considers past, present, and likely future similar impacts and assumes that reasonably expected future applications with like impacts will be sought, thus necessitating equitable distribution of acceptable impacts among future applications. Mitigation, which offsets a projects adverse impacts within the same basin as the project for which a permit is sought is presumed to not cause unacceptable cumulative impacts.

The proposed mitigation will offset the project’s adverse impacts and it is in the same drainage basin; therefore the project complies with the criteria outlined in Section 12.2.8 of the Applicant’s Handbook.

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Wetland Summary Table

Touchton Road Widening

Total Wetlands On-site 3.42 Acres
Total Surface Waters On-site 1.74 Acres
Impacts that Require Mitigation 1.34 Acres
Impacts that Require No Mitigation 1.74 Acres

Mitigation 2.04 Credits
Loblolly Mitigation Bank Credits 2.04
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Reviewers: William O’Toole
Alexandria James


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