Archive of Prominent Section 106 Cases:
Arizona: Construction of Holbrook Interchange (Woodruff Butte)
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January 1999 Developments
Prompted by recent information that this project has been substantially completed, the Council again contacted the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to request that it be apprized of the current status of the project and compliance with Section 106. In response, Council staff was included in a meeting called by FHWA to address outstanding issues regarding the project.
Participants at the meeting confirmed that construction of the interchange has proceeded, and that Woodruff Butte had been used as a "borrow" source for construction fill material. However, construction has proceeded with State funds, and FHWA indicated that it was not currently funding this project. FHWA has been advised that should it seek to provide funding in the future, the Council will need to consider whether the Council's opportunity to offer meaningful comment has been foreclosed.
Woodruff Butte is a traditional cultural property of exceptional significance to the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe, and the Pueblo of Zuni, and it has been determined eligible for inclusion on the National Register by the Arizona State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO). It also was the Arizona Department of Transportation's preferred primary source for construction materials for the Holbrook Interchange Project.
Upon first learning of the proposed damage to the butte, the Council notified FHWA that such effects would be a reasonably foreseeable outcome of this project and should be taken into account pursuant to Section 106. The Council asked FHWA to investigate this matter and to not take any action that could adversely affect historic properties until Section 106 issues had been addressed.
Meanwhile, in response to a suit filed by the Hopi Tribe, a court disagreed with FHWA's proposition that a Federal agency may limit its responsibilities under the National Historic Preservation Act by narrowly defining the area of potential effect. The court issued a temporary restraining order enjoining FHWA from disbursing any Federal funds on this project until it has complied with Section 106.
The issue of FHWA's responsibility for material borrow sources under Section 106 has long been a point of debate between FHWA and the Council. In late 1987, FHWA issued guidance governing the applicability of Section 106 to borrow and disposal sites. The policy stated that Section 106 requirements only applied when the borrow site was specified in project planning or when borrow material was economically available at a limited number of locations.
The guidance essentially treated borrow material as a product, like steel girders, rather than a site-specific resource. However, in the view of the Council (and of the court, in this case) such arguments do not alter the fact that borrow activities carried out as a result of federally assisted highway construction can contribute to the loss of significant historic resources.
Staff contact: MaryAnn Naber
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