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City, contractor working toward permits for Adrian's Island project

City, contractor working toward permits for Adrian's Island project

April 22nd, 2018 by Nicole Roberts in Local News

The wooded tract of land known as Adrian's Island is sandwiched between railroad tracks and the south side of the Missouri River in Jefferson City. (2006 file photo)

Photo by News Tribune

As city officials continue moving forward with the Adrian's Island riverfront project, several items — like permits — still need to be nailed down before construction.

The Jefferson City Housing Authority, which owns Adrian's Island, approved Jefferson City's license request last Tuesday, allowing the city to send workers to the island to remove brush and river debris. This was one step in the preliminary planning process, Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin said, adding the city would not clear brush until after the city receives appropriate permits, raises more funds and gains 0.19 acres from the state.

"When the Housing Authority signed that, it doesn't mean that they're starting to prepare the island today," Tergin said. "What we're doing is we're getting ready for that day so they can prepare what would need to be done, such as clearing some brush so we can see how the trails can be set up. As we move forward, we know that we'll need to look at this area and how it would be laid out and doing some kind of preliminary work — and when I say work, it's more preliminary planning, not necessarily work. We're not ready to go down and do work on the island — we're not quite to that phase yet."

The city plans to construct a 826-foot bridge leading down to Adrian's Island — 30 acres between the Missouri River and Union Pacific Railroad tracks that stretches from the Missouri state Capitol to the former Missouri State Penitentiary — and constructing a riverfront park.

Contractor Bartlett & West does not anticipate applying for the permits until later, project managing engineer Bob Gilbert said.

It is common for contractors to apply for permits during the final design phase due to the permits' time limits, Gilbert said. The project is at about 30 percent in the design phase, which is known as the preliminary plans stage, he added.

"We do not have a permit yet, and that is because we don't want it yet because we're not ready to construct," Gilbert said. "We typically would not get the permits until a matter of a few months before construction starts (because) most permits don't last anything more than two years."

Gilbert said he has been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, though, providing information about the project ahead of time. This is customary for projects, he said, as it gives the state and federal agencies a chance to learn about the project before the permit application and allows the contractor to learn if there are any concerns.

He added he had "no concerns at all that we will be able to obtain" the permits.

The city would need a Clean Water Act Section 404 permit through the Corps of Engineers Kansas City District's Section 408 program. The Corps of Engineers regulates all waterways in the United States, along with any work or structures in, under or over navigable waters.

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If the Adrian's Island project qualified for a nationwide permit, it would be valid until mid-March 2022, said Corps of Engineers Chief of Public Affairs David Kolarik. However, standard permits normally expire after three years.

After the city applies for the permit, the Corps of Engineers would consider the impact the project would have on the waterways and the effect the project would have on the public's interest, Kolarik said.

The Corps of Engineers also considers the thoughts of other federal and state agencies like the Missouri Department of Conservation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. It also speaks with local agencies, interest groups and the general public, according to its website.

Bartlett & West would need to apply for a land disturbance permit from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, as it is required when projects destroy or disturb root zones and the surface area, said Michael Abbott, DNR Operation Permit Section chief.

Along with these, Bartlett & West would need to work with the Department of Natural Resources' State Historic Preservation Office. The State Historic Preservation Office looks at the historical and cultural nature of the land, which Gilbert said he is not worried about since the island was created in the 1960s.

"We're not anticipating an issue at all because this land has no history," he said. "That's a very unusual, unique thing about this project is it actually has no historical or cultural value because it didn't actually exist 40 or 50 years ago. So there's no ability for there to be any cultural significance like Native American habitation or anything like that because it wasn't there."

Bartlett & West may also require a Section 401 Water Quality Certification from DNR, Abbott said.

About 13 acres of Adrian's Island would be above the flood elevation Bartlett & West used, and this 13 acres is where the bridge and most of the park would be located.

The island has flooded five times since 2000, Todd Kempker, project manager with Bartlett & West, has previously said. The city does not plan to place permanent structures on the island.

The final construction phase and permit applications depend heavily on how fast an ad hoc committee can fundraise about $1.7 million for the project, Gilbert said.

The estimated cost for the project is about $4 million, and an ad hoc committee raised about $2.3 million, Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce President Randy Allen said Friday. Of that, $1 million was a donation from local philanthropist B.J. DeLong with the stipulation that the donation go toward riverfront access.

The ad hoc committee hired a consultant to conduct a fundraising study to determine whether the project is feasible, and that study will not be ready for at least two more weeks, Allen said.

When Bartlett & West applies for the permits also depends on whether Gov. Eric Greitens signs a bill that would donate 0.19 acres between the Senate garage and Veterans Memorial to Jefferson City. The Missouri House of Representatives and Missouri Senate passed the bill in March, but it is unknown when Greitens might sign the bill.