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FAQ: Transportation Projects

Rural wet road
Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

FAQ: Transportation Projects

EGLE's Water Resources Division reviews permit applications submitted by Public Transportation Agencies.  This includes environmental reviews, hydraulic reviews, and permit processing for new or replacement bridges, culverts, and public airports.

  • Generally EGLE is evaluating whether the proposed project is potentially going to impact any of the natural resource values associated with a stream, lake, wetland, sand dunes, or floodplain. If there are going to be any impacts, the applicants should demonstrate whether there are any alternatives to avoid the impacted area. If the area cannot be avoided the applicant should then demonstrate the impacts will be minimized to the extent practicable. Finally, there likely will be a requirement to mitigate for the wetland and stream impacts that could not be avoided. A general description on bridge and culvert concerns can be found at Michigan.gov/EGLETransportationReview, then click on Bridge and Culvert Guidelines in the information category.

    EGLE must also determine whether the proposed structure causes any additional backwater impacts to upstream property owners.

  • In Michigan, a federal permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is only required for work proposed in Section 10 navigable waters of the United States. This is in addition to the EGLE permit. For most projects only the EGLE permit is needed.

    If a USACE permit is required, EGLE will send a copy of the permit application to the Detroit District Office for processing at the federal level. The USACE may ask for additional information other than what EGLE requires.

    If the proposed work requires review and approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), EGLE will coordinate with that agency. A separate EPA permit is not required. Coordination between EGLE and EPA will be handled with the EGLE permit process.

  • Any changes to the project that are within a regulated watercourse, wetland or floodplain that were not included in the original permit would require the applicant to ask for a permit revision. This also applies to instances where the contractor proposes a different method of construction over what was originally permitted. If the changes cause more environmental impacts than were originally permitted, the project may also have to be re-public noticed.

    If the changes are minor and do not cause additional environmental impact, then a permit revision can be granted in a timely manner.

    Request for permit revisions can only be made by the applicant or their authorized agent and not the contractor.

  • If the new bridge or culvert is not an obvious hydraulic improvement, then a hydraulic analysis will likely be required on streams/drains with a drainage area of two square miles or more. All of the following would likely require a hydraulic analysis: the waterway opening of the structure or cross-sectional area of the channel is being reduced; or if the culvert is lengthened; or if the culvert material type is being changed; or if the skew angle of the bridge or culvert is being changed.

  • Depending on how important it is to re-open the road (e.g., is it a primary road, is there a school or hospital nearby, is continuous emergency vehicle access needed, etc.), an emergency letter permit or verbal approval can be given ASAP. Before granting the approval however, the Public Transportation Agency (PTA) should submit the EMERGENCY INFORMATION SHEET FOR BRIDGE OR CULVERT FAILURE form along with a site location map. The PTA’s must prepare the actual permit application and submit it to EGLE within 30 days. EGLE will process the application and, if there are no concerns, will issue a final permit.

    If the road doesn't have to be re-opened right away, the PTA should submit the regular permit application and plans, and upon approval, a Conditional Permit can be granted. The Conditional Permit allows the PTA to order and construct the new structure prior to expiration of the public notice period. The PTA is notified that even though a Conditional permit authorizes them to conduct the work, if any issues or concerns are raised during the Public Notice period, the PTA is responsible to address them.

    If the bridge or culvert fails after hours, on weekends or holidays, the PTA does have some latitude to use their discretion to re-open the road. If the EGLE Transportation Specialist cannot be reached, the PTA is responsible for notifying the Transportation Specialist the next workday.

  • Yes, county drain crossings (i.e., bridges and culverts), and drain relocations that are not installed as part of a formerly petitioned drain project require a permit from EGLE. A separate permit may also be required from the county drain office.

  • Maintenance and installation of a roadside ditch generally does not require a permit provided they are not part of a stream, and do not affect adjacent wetlands.

    A ditch is a roadside feature that only flows during and immediately after a rain event.

  • No, new storm water outlet pipes that are discharging to regulated stream/drain, lake or wetland require a permit. Repairs of existing outlets are exempt, and the riprap at the outlet is also exempt even if it extends below the OHWM.

  • All applications are entered into the MiEnviro permitting system. MiEnviro is an on-line service that allows you to follow your application through the review process.

  • EGLE’s Hydrologic Studies and Floodplain Management Unit provides the official estimate of the flood discharge for projects that have a drainage area of 2 square miles or more. There is no charge for this service. Please use the online request form.