The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) proposed to provide transportation improvements along the K Street NW and H Street NW corridor and related areas from Union Station to Georgetown (Project corridor). The evaluation included the preparation of an Environmental Assessment (EA) within the study area in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
PEER Consultants, P.C. (PEER) was a member of the Environmental Assessment team. PEER’s responsibilities involved performing a natural resources assessment, preparing a technical memorandum, performing the hazardous materials investigation and analyzing and preparing a technical memorandum within the study area. The purpose for the natural resources investigation was to identify the existing environmental, historical, and cultural conditions that could impact the project. This included an identification of waters of the US; terrestrial and aquatic habitats; rare, threatened and endangered (RTE) species; wetlands, floodplains, forested areas with trees that could be impacted by the project; and, an evaluation of the geological and hydrological conditions in the project area. The finalized report prepared by the PEER team documents the results of these investigations.
The Natural Resources Investigation consisted of reviewing existing GIS databases, including on-line resources, such as the US Fish and Wildlife National Wetlands Inventory, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Map Service, and the US Department of Agriculture Soil Extent Mapping Tool to identify natural resources within the study area. A Request for Information (RFI) was submitted to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) regarding the presence of federally listed and proposed, rare, threatened and/or endangered (RTEs) species within or near the study area. In addition, natural resources such as forested areas, roadside trees, bodies of water, and wetlands were identified during a site reconnaissance.
The results of the analysis for the EA determined that the natural resources below could potentially be impacted by the project:
- Waters of the US – Rock Creek and the C&O Canal
- Urban landscape habitat
- Rivers and streams habitat
- Submerged aquatic vegetation habitat
- Roadside tree resources
Since the majority of the study area is developed, no long-term and significant impacts to urban natural resources are anticipated. Short-term impacts to waterways and submerged aquatic vegetation habitat will be mitigated by implementing temporary stormwater management, and erosion and sediment controls to minimize runoff and sediments from construction activities. We also recommended that impacts from water quality runoff could be mitigated/improved by incorporating Low Impact Development (LID) techniques into the project. Potential impacts to roadside trees could be mitigated by providing tree protection, such as temporary fencing, barricades and/or avoiding construction techniques that could harm the critical root zone of the tree.