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Public Notice of Application by Jackson County Port Authority

PUBLIC NOTICE OF APPLICATION
FOR COASTAL WETLANDS PERMIT
AND WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION

The Jackson County Port Authority an application requesting permission to conduct regulated activities under the provision of the Coastal Wetlands Protection Law Act, Title 49, Chapter 27, Mississippi Code of 1972.

The applicant is proposing to install a new section of railway line in estuarine and forested wetlands adjacent to the Escatawpa River in Moss Point, Jackson County, MS. The purpose of the proposed project is to discontinue an existing rail line that currently runs through downtown areas of Pascagoula and Moss Point and utilize a rail line that is currently being constructed which runs between Bayou Casotte and the Escatawpa River. This proposed railway section would allow for the abandonment of 22 road crossings in the Moss Point/Pascagoula area. The new railway section will originate at the Moss Point Industrial and Technology Center (MPITC) located at the former International Paper site and extend west and northwestward for approximately (0.89 mile) connecting with an existing rail line just south of the Escatawpa River railroad bridge. The proposed construction length of the new rail line through estuarine wetlands (some of which meets the definition of coastal wetlands in MS Code §49-27-5) is approximately 3,576 linear feet, and approximately 1,115 linear feet through forested wetlands. The width of the proposed fill area is approximately 45.5 feet resulting in 162,708 square feet (3.73 acres) of estuarine wetlands impacts and 50,732 square feet (1.16 acres) of forested wetlands impacts. Total wetland impact is approximately 213,440 square feet or 4.89 acres of impact. Approximately 20,589 cubic yards of fill material will be used during construction of the rail through the estuarine wetlands and forested wetlands. The proposed mitigation for the impacts to forested wetlands is the purchase of wetland mitigation credits from an approved mitigation bank within the service area as determined by the Interagency Review Team. Mitigation for the impacts to estuarine wetlands will be required, but details of the mitigation plan have not been finalized.

The applicant is requesting variances from Chapter 8, Section 2, Part III.O.1 of the Mississippi Coastal Program (MCP) which states, “Permanent filling of coastal wetlands because of potential adverse and cumulative environmental impacts is discouraged”; Miss. Admin. Code Title 22, Part 23, Chapter 8, Section 114.01 which states, “Permanent filling of coastal wetlands below the mean high tide line because of potential adverse and cumulative environmental impacts is not authorized”; Chapter 8, Section 2, Part III.O.2 of the MCP which states, “Areas containing submerged vegetation or regularly flooded emergent vegetation shall not be filled”; Miss. Admin. Code Title 22, Part 23, Chapter 8, Section 114.03 which states, “Sensitive coastal wetlands must not be filled.”; Chapter 8 Section 2, Part III.F.1 of the MCP which states, “Bridging shall be used in preference to filling”; Miss. Admin. Code Title 22, Part 23, Chapter 8, Section 105.01 which states, “Bridging must be used in preference to filling to create roadbeds, railways, and other transportation facilities. Suitable erosion control methods must be used on bridge approaches.”; Chapter 8 Section 2, Part III.F.3 of the MCP which states, ”Except for the construction of replacement bridges and approaches, transportation improvement projects shall generally follow existing alignments in coastal wetlands.”; and Miss. Admin. Code Title 22, Part 23, Chapter 8, Section 105.03 which states, “Except for the construction of replacement bridges and approaches, transportation improvement projects must generally follow existing alignments in coastal wetlands.” This public notice and project diagrams may be accessed on MDMR’s website.

In compliance with Section 401 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1251, 1341), as amended by PL 95-217, the applicant will request certification from the Office of Pollution Control that the above mentioned activity will be in compliance with applicable provisions of Section 301 (33 U.S.C. 1311), Section 302 (33 U.S.C. 1312), Section 303 (U.S.C. 1313), Section 306 (U.S.C. 1316), and Section 307 (U.S.C. 1317) of the Act and appropriate requirements of the State Law.

Any person wishing to make comments or objections to the proposed regulated activity must submit those comments in writing to the Department of Marine Resources at 1141 Bayview Avenue, Biloxi, Mississippi 39530 before 1:00 p.m. on the day July 11, 2019.