From the National Trust for Historic Preservation
Preservationists around the country should be proud of the outcome of their advocacy efforts around section 4(f). The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials reached an agreement to amend section 4(f) to streamline historic preservation reviews of transportation projects and, at the same time, maintain section 4(f)ís strong standards of protection for historic places. Preservation Action and NCSHPO also support the agreement (please see press release below for more details).
This agreement would allow for the satisfaction of section 4(f) requirements in cases where there was a properly developed finding under section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act that a transportation project would have no adverse effect on historic sites, even though the project would use a small portion of the historic site. The agreement includes numerous safeguards like the written concurrence of state historic preservation officers and public involvement through consulting parties.
The agreement was developed into an amendment to S.1072, the Senateís transportation reauthorization bill and will be included in the bill as part of large package of other amendments supported by the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The National Trust will also work to interest the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in adopting the language of the agreement.
The sustained outpouring of support among preservationists who advocated with members of Congress on behalf of section 4(f) built the foundation on which this agreement was constructed. By developing a streamlined approach to projects with negligible impacts on historic places, we can concentrate our attentions on the larger highway projects with much greater potential to harm historic sites and on finding ways to work more closely with transportation agencies to avoid or mitigate adverse impacts early in highway project planning and development.
Historic Preservation and Transportation Agencies Find Common Ground to Safeguard America's Heritage
Washington, DC (February 5, 2004) - Capping a long battle to save Section 4(f), the strongest legislative protection for historic places, Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, today announced that an agreement had been reached between the Trust and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. With the help of Senator George V. Voinovich (R-OH) and the Ohio Department of Transportation, an amendment has been developed that would streamline preservation reviews of transportation projects while continuing to protect historic places.
"The National Trust is grateful to Senator Voinovich and the Ohio Department of Transportation for taking a leadership role in reaching out to a variety of stakeholders to develop this consensus position on Section 4(f)," said Richard Moe. "The National Trust fully supports this amendment as it relates to historic sites and the preservation community joins us in that endorsement, including our partners Preservation Action and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers. We also want to acknowledge the tireless and effective support of Senators Warner, Jeffords, and Chafee as we have worked to protect America's heritage."
The 1966 Department of Transportation Act included Section 4(f) to require transportation officials to give paramount consideration to the protection of historic properties in planning their projects. This amendment would ensure that Section 4(f) works effectively to avoid potential harm to historic properties, while encouraging transportation officials and historic preservation agencies to work together to reduce bureaucratic paperwork for projects with truly minimal impacts on historic places. The amendment would not apply to transportation projects that adversely affect historic places and would leave fully intact the strong standards of protection for historic places that transportation law presently provides. The foundation for this agreement was laid in during a major transportation and historic preservation conference in Lexington, Kentucky in June of 2002.
Since becoming law in 1966 Section 4(f) has stopped plans for highways that would have severed the Mississippi riverfront from the historic French Quarter of New Orleans, devastated Overton Park in Memphis, Tennessee, and protected countless other historic places and neighborhoods from being bulldozed. The law enabled citizens in Baltimore to persuade officials to build a tunnel under Baltimore harbor instead of a massive bridge that would have loomed above Fort McHenry, birthplace of our national anthem, and destroyed thousands of homes in neighborhoods throughout the area.