Transportation sector

City of Cedar Park, Williamson County, Texas

Issue:  The extension of Cypress Creek Road from US 183 (business) to US 183A required the realignment of over 500 linear feet of Cluck Creek and its mature riparian corridor.  In addition, the proposed road would traverse smaller spring-fed tributaries and a regionally important railway corridor.  It would require a full National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) assessment to obtain project authorization.  Goshawk team members performed a Waters of the US delineation, prepared the US Army Corps of Engineers Individual Permit application, and developed a suitable mitigation plan to address all protected resources.  Multiple additional federal and state agencies including US Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality were consulted to obtain the appropriate permits and authorizations for construction within this ecologically-sensitive area, which potentially provided habitat for several threatened or endangered (T/E) species.  Goshawk also consulted the Texas Historical Commission and conducted a survey due to the moderate to high potential for the presence of significant cultural resources in the project vicinity.

Action:  During the pre-field resource review, it was apparent that the project would traverse an area with numerous protected resources.  It would be complicated to obtain authorization from several regulatory agencies, each with their own agenda and regulations.  A detailed assessment of the site and surrounding area (where public access was allowed) was performed to develop an overall understanding of project needs and constraints.  Goshawk team members worked closely with project stakeholders to incorporate cost-effective design features and minimize impacts to sensitive areas; however, public safety concerns prevented total avoidance.  An interagency meeting was arranged to get all key regulatory project managers on the site at the same time to discuss avoidance measures.  An open discussion of the project constraints and overlapping regulatory jurisdictions allowed the project managers to reach a general consensus that day.  

Outcome:  Goshawk team members developed a multi-disciplinary mitigation plan that incorporated creek and riparian corridor creation, deed-restriction of off-site high-quality creek corridors within an undeveloped city park, and participation in an in lieu fee program administered by the Nature Conservancy.  All permitting agencies issued project authorization within one year of project initiation thanks to the speedy completion of the environmental assessment, innovative project design, proactive coordination, and a multi-component mitigation plan.