Medical District Drainage Tunnel Extension at Ehrhardt Street

Final Notice and Public Explanation of a Proposed Activity in a 100-Year Floodplain;

Notice of Finding of No Significant Impact; and
Notice of Intent to Request a Release of Funds

 September 16, 2021

The City of Charleston

2 George Street

Charleston, South Carolina 29401

 

To: All interested Agencies (FEMA), Groups and Individuals

 

These notices shall satisfy two separate but related procedural requirements for activities to be undertaken by the City of Charleston.                        

 

Final Notice and Public Explanation of a Proposed Activity in a 100-Year Floodplain:

This is to give notice that the City of Charleston under Part 58 has conducted an evaluation as required by Executive Order 11988, in accordance with HUD regulations at 24 CFR 55.20 Subpart C Procedures for Making Determinations on Floodplain Management and Wetlands Protection. The activity is funded under the South Carolina Office of Resilience Disaster Recovery Division (SCOR DRD) under Project # IP-20-1000-01. The proposed project site locations are located on Ehrhardt Street and the intersection of Cannon and President Streets in Charleston, Charleston County. 

 

The City of Charleston is proposing to perform work on Ehrhardt Street and the intersection of Cannon and President Streets to alleviate frequent flooding issues currently experienced in these locations. The project is located in Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina, and is identified to be within the 100-year floodplain, specifically flood zone AE. The project is divided between two sites, one at the intersection of Cannon Street and President Street and one along Ehrhardt Street and within the MUSC Institute of Psychiatry courtyard. The City of Charleston is proposing to replace and upgrade the existing stormwater system along Ehrhardt Street adjacent to the existing MUSC Institute of Psychiatry courtyard. The new stormwater system will connect and drain to a vortex stormwater structure connected to a vertical drilled drop shaft (Ehrhardt Street drop shaft) that will be installed in the MUSC Institute of Psychiatry courtyard. A deep underground horizontal tunnel will be excavated from the new vertical shaft at Ehrhardt Street to the existing vertical shaft at Cannon and President Streets. The deep underground horizontal tunnel will connect the two vertical shafts and convey stormwater to the existing series of deep underground tunnels that make up the Spring/Fishburne deep tunnel system.

 

The purpose of the project is to alleviate frequent flooding issues currently experienced in these areas which would provide benefits such as safety, mobility, and a healthier community. The total acreage between the two sites will disturb approximately 0.8-acres. For the portion of the project site located at the intersection of Cannon Street and President Street, approximately 0.3-acres of disturbance are located within easements on private property and <0.1-acres of disturbance are located within the rights-of-way of Cannon Street and President Street. For the portion of the project to be completed on Ehrhardt Street, approximately 0.2-acres of disturbance are located within easements on private property and 0.3-acres of disturbance are located within the right-of-way of Ehrhardt Street. The portion of the floodplain in the proposed project site consists of asphalt paved roads, concrete sidewalks, gravel parking areas, and a partially grassed and concrete courtyard. Surface water generally flows into the low-lying area of Ehrhardt Street where the proposed stormwater improvements are to be located. Surrounding uses consist of medical businesses and general urban development. The lack of wooded vegetation combined with soil compaction from development, and placement of impervious materials in roadways and sidewalks, has removed the floodplain’s ability to attenuate runoff through infiltration and evapotranspiration, thus limiting floodwater storage for the retention of surface water. The previous development within the proposed project area has removed the floodplain’s recreational, educational, and scenic values. No adverse effects are anticipated on the natural environment or the related natural and beneficial functions and values of the floodplain. 

 

The City of Charleston has considered the following alternatives and mitigation measures to be taken to minimize adverse impacts and to restore and preserve natural and beneficial values:

 

  1. Locate the project outside the floodplain;
  2. Alternative solution for the project purpose; and
  3. No Action/not complete the proposed project

 

Alternative 1: Locate the project outside the floodplain: The purpose of the project is to upgrade the stormwater system and alleviating precipitation-driven and tidally-influenced flooding due to inadequate drainage infrastructure along Ehrhardt Street. The proposed improvement is located within the 100-year floodplain, flood zone AE. The floodplain extends throughout the Medical District. Relocating the proposed improvement outside of the 100-year floodplain but keeping it along Ehrhardt Street to alleviate the existing flooding issues is not feasible.

 

Alternative 2: Alternative solution for project purpose: The purpose of the project is to upgrade the stormwater system and alleviating precipitation-driven and tidally-influenced flooding due to inadequate drainage infrastructure along Ehrhardt Street. The project will provide a safer, more mobile, and healthier community for the public in the Medical District and adjoining businesses. There are no alternative methods to improve this infrastructure.

 

Alternative 3: No action/not complete the proposed project: The third alternative is to not complete the project. The City of Charleston is committed to fixing the flooding issues within the City. The City of Charleston has undertaken numerous city-wide projects to alleviate the flood issues seen throughout the City. The Ehrhardt Street Drainage Project is a part of this commitment to provide livable, walkable, and a safer community for the public and businesses in the area. No action would leave the supporting businesses and Medical District to experience continuous flooding and impacts to their day-to-day operations and community. A No Action will not alleviate the current flooding of the city owned Ehrhardt Street and surrounding areas which cuts off access to the hospitals preventing staff, emergency vehicles, and patients in need of medical attention from reaching the hospitals. The Ehrhardt Street Drainage Project is a critical improvement that will provide flooding mitigation to the medical district and improve the quality and availability of medical services provided to the public.

 

The City of Charleston has reevaluated the alternatives to building in the floodplain and has determined that it has no practicable alternative. Environmental files that document compliance with steps 3 through 6 of Executive Order 11988, are available for public inspection, review and copying upon request at the times and location delineated in the last paragraph of this notice for receipt of comments. 

 

There are three primary purposes for this notice. First, people who may be affected by activities in floodplains and those who have an interest in the protection of the natural environment should be given an opportunity to express their concerns and provide information about these areas. Second, an adequate public notice program can be an important public educational tool. The dissemination of information and request for public comment about floodplains can facilitate and enhance Federal efforts to reduce the risks and impacts associated with the occupancy and modification of these special areas. Third, as a matter of fairness, when the Federal government determines it will participate in actions taking place in floodplains, it must inform those who may be put at greater or continued risk.

 

Written comments must be received by the City of Charleston at the following on or before September 30, 2021: City of Charleston, Department of Public Service, 2 George Street, Charleston, South Carolina 29401; (843) 579-7682; Attention: Steve Kirk, Senior Engineering Project Manager, (RE: HUD Environmental Review). A full description of the project may also be reviewed from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM at address same as above. Comments may also be submitted via email at kirks@charleston-sc.gov. All associated maps, permit applications, and project information are available for review on the City’s website: www.charleston-sc.gov/2564/Medical-District-Drainage-Tunnel-Extensi.

 

REQUEST FOR RELEASE OF FUNDS

On or about (October 4, 2021) the SCOR-DRD will submit a request to the HUD for the release of Community Development Block Grant Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) funds under Title I of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 as amended, to undertake a project known as Ehrhardt Street Drainage Project for the purpose of upgrading the stormwater system to alleviate precipitation-driven and tidally-influenced flooding.

 

FINDING OF NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACT

The SCOR-DRD and the City of Charleston have determined that the project will have no significant impact on the human environment. Therefore, an Environmental Impact Statement under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) is not required. Additional project information is contained in the Environmental Review Record (ERR) on file at Department of Public Service, 2 George Street, Charleston, South Carolina 29401 and may be examined or copied weekdays 8:30 A.M to 4:30 P.M.

 

PUBLIC COMMENTS

Any individual, group, or agency may submit written comments on the ERR to the City of Charleston at Department of Public Service, 2 George Street, Charleston, South Carolina 29401 (RE: HUD Environmental Review). All comments received by September 30, 2021, will be considered by the City of Charleston prior to authorizing submission of a request for release of funds. Comments should specify which Notice they are addressing.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL CERTIFICATION

The SCOR-DRD certifies to HUD that Eric Fosmire in his capacity as Chief of Staff and General Counsel consents to accept the jurisdiction of the Federal Courts if an action is brought to enforce responsibilities in relation to the environmental review process and that these responsibilities have been satisfied. HUD’s approval of the certification satisfies its responsibilities under NEPA and related laws and authorities and allows the SCOR-DRD to use Program funds.

 

OBJECTIONS TO RELEASE OF FUNDS

HUD will accept objections to its release of fund and the SCOR-DRD’s certification for a period of fifteen days following the anticipated submission date or its actual receipt of the request (whichever is later) only if they are on one of the following bases: (a) the certification was not executed by the Certifying Officer of the SCOR-DRD; (b) the SCOR-DRD has omitted a step or failed to make a decision or finding required by HUD regulations at 24 CFR part 58; (c) the grant recipient or other participants in the development process have committed funds, incurred costs or undertaken activities not authorized by 24 CFR Part 58 before approval of a release of funds by HUD; or (d) another Federal agency acting pursuant to 40 CFR Part 1504 has submitted a written finding that the project is unsatisfactory from the standpoint of environmental quality. Objections must be prepared and submitted in accordance with the required procedures (24 CFR Part 58, Sec. 58.76) and shall be addressed to Mr. Eric Fosmire, Chief of Staff & General Counsel at 632 Rosewood Drive, Columbia, South Carolina 29201. Potential objectors should contact Mr. Eric Fosmire, Chief of Staff & General Counsel to verify the actual last day of the objection period.

 

Eric Fosmire, South Carolina Office of Resilience – Disaster Recovery Division

 

EARLY NOTICE AND PUBLIC REVIEW OF A PROPOSED ACTIVITY IN A 100-YEAR FLOODPLAIN

To: All interested Agencies (FEMA), Groups, and Individuals

This is to give notice that the City of Charleston under Part 58 has determined that the following proposed action under South Carolina Office of Resilience Disaster Recovery Division (SCDOR DRD) program (Project # IP-20-1000-01) is located in the 100-Year Floodplain, and the City of Charleston will be identifying and evaluating practicable alternatives to locating the action in the floodplain and the potential impacts on the floodplain from the proposed action, as required by Executive Order 11988, in accordance with HUD regulations at 24 CFR 55.20 Subpart C Procedures for Making Determinations on Floodplain Management and Protection of Wetlands.

The City of Charleston is proposing to perform work on Ehrhardt Street and the intersection of Cannon and President Streets to alleviate frequent flooding issues currently experienced in these locations. The project is located in Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina, and is identified to be within the 100-year floodplain, specifically flood zone AE. The project is divided between two sites, one at the intersection of Cannon Street and President Street and one along Ehrhardt Street and within the MUSC Institute of Psychiatry courtyard. The City of Charleston is proposing to replace and upgrade the existing stormwater system along Ehrhardt Street adjacent to the existing MUSC Institute of Psychiatry courtyard. The new stormwater system will connect and drain to a vortex stormwater structure connected to a vertical drilled drop shaft (Ehrhardt Street drop shaft) that will be installed in the MUSC Institute of Psychiatry courtyard. A deep underground horizontal tunnel will be excavated from the new vertical shaft at Ehrhardt Street to the existing vertical shaft at Cannon and President Streets. The deep underground horizontal tunnel will connect the two vertical shafts and convey stormwater to the existing series of deep underground tunnels that make up the Spring/Fishburne deep tunnel system.

The purpose of the project is to alleviate frequent flooding issues currently experienced in these areas which would provide benefits such as safety, mobility, and a healthier community. The total acreage between the two sites will disturb approximately 0.8-acres. For the portion of the project site located at the intersection of Cannon Street and President Street, approximately 0.3-acres of disturbance are located within easements on private property and <0.1-acres of disturbance are located within the rights-of-way of Cannon Street and President Street. For the portion of the project to be completed on Ehrhardt Street, approximately 0.2-acres of disturbance are located within easements on private property and 0.3-acres of disturbance are located within the right-of-way of Ehrhardt Street. The portion of the floodplain in the proposed project site consists of asphalt paved roads, concrete sidewalks, gravel parking areas, and a partially grassed and concrete courtyard. Surface water generally flows into the low-lying area of Ehrhardt Street where the proposed stormwater improvements are to be located. Surrounding uses consist of medical businesses and general urban development. The lack of wooded vegetation combined with soil compaction from development, and placement of impervious materials in roadways and sidewalks, has removed the floodplain’s ability to attenuate runoff through infiltration and evapotranspiration, thus limiting floodwater storage for the retention of surface water. The previous development within the proposed project area has removed the floodplain’s recreational, educational, and scenic values. No adverse effects are anticipated on the natural environment or the related natural and beneficial functions and values of the floodplain.

There are three primary purposes for this notice. First, people who may be affected by activities in the floodplain and those who have an interest in the protection of the natural environment should be given an opportunity to express their concerns and provide information about these areas. Commenters are encouraged to offer alternative sites outside of the floodplain, alternative methods to serve the same project purpose, and methods to minimize and mitigate impacts. Second, an adequate public notice program can be an important public educational tool. The dissemination of information and request for public comment about floodplains can facilitate and enhance Federal efforts to reduce the risks and impacts associated with the occupancy and modification of these special areas. Third, as a matter of fairness, when the Federal government determines it will participate in actions taking place in floodplains, it must inform those who may be put at greater or continued risk.

Written comments must be received by the City of Charleston at the following on or before July 1, 2021: City of Charleston, Department of Public Service, 2 George Street, Charleston, South Carolina 29401; (843) 724-3713; Attention: Frank Newham, Senior Engineering Project Manager, (RE: HUD Environmental Review). A full description of the project may also be reviewed from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM at address same as above. Comments may also be submitted via email at newhamj@charleston-sc.gov. All associated maps, permit applications, and project information are available for review on the City’s website: www.charleston-sc.gov/2564/Medical-District-Drainage-Tunnel-Extensi.

Date: June 16, 2021

Alert: Funding Approval

The City of Charleston has signed an agreement with the South Carolina Disaster Recovery Division to receive federal funding for the Medical District drainage improvement project. The funding is part of the Community Development Block Grant Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) funding. The funding allocated under the grant is $9,964,190 with a matching commitment from the city of $4,245,646.

Ehrhardt 1


  1. Project Overview

About the Project

The Charleston Medical District is home to three major medical centers: MUSC, VA, and Roper Hospital. Together, this includes the premier medical university of the region, the region’s only Children’s Hospital, and the Veterans Administration.Ehrhardt 2

The Medical District is increasingly threatened by repetitive flooding. Major storm events hit Charleston multiple times every year affecting access to essential medical care, including emergency vehicle access to the Medical District. When operations are interrupted, it has a dramatic impact on the public health and safety for employees, patients, visitors, and residents of the area. Without intervention, the delivery of healthcare itself is at risk.

The Ehrhardt Project will construct a deep tunnel extension and drop shaft to drain the street level stormwater collection system into the deep tunnel and pump systems of the US-17/Spring-Fishburne Project. The City is currently constructing the US-17/Spring-Fishburne project and is expecting to begin the Medical District Drainage Tunnel Extension at Ehrhardt Street project in early 2022.

Storymap

To learn more about the project, please check soon for a StoryMap outlining the work that will be done for the Medical District Drainage Tunnel Extension at Ehrhardt Street. Curious as to how deep tunnels work? Check out the US-17/Spring-Fishburne Deep Tunnel Drainage Improvement Project website for more information.

Ehrhardt Quick Facts