specific nav links
with Section 106 Section
106 in Action Archive
of Prominent Section 106 Cases Massachusetts: Introduction of
Commercial Passenger Service at Hanscom Field, Bedford
Read about other current
Section 106 cases
Introduction of Commercial Passenger Service at Hanscom Field, Bedford
Agency: Federal Aviation
Criteria for ACHP Involvement:
- The potential exists for adverse effects to Minute Man National
Historical Park and other nationally significant historic properties
- The project has raised issues regarding the applicability of Section
106 to a type of Federal undertakingthe issuance and amendment
of airline operations specifications (Criterion 2).
- The project has engendered litigation and substantial public controversy
In April 2001, Shuttle America airline declared bankruptcy and began
limiting its commercial passenger service at Hanscom Field near Minute
Man National Historical Park, but three other airlines formally expressed
interest in initiating service at the airport. Announcements by Boston-Maine
Airways, US Airways, and Midway Airlines fueled further public protest
regarding the potential for increased service to impact the adjacent national
park and other historic properties. Of particular concern was the potential
for the introduction of jet service.
Opponents of Hanscom Field commercial passenger service (photo courtesy of Jim Henderson)
US Airways later withdrew its proposal after a May public meeting that
was attended by 400-500 people and had to be cut short due to demonstrations.
Then, in the wake of the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United
States, Midway Airlines ceased operations. Boston-Maine Airways has not
withdrawn its indication of interest, and Shuttle America continues offering
service, albeit at reduced levels.
The Boston Sub-Group of the interagency Hanscom Field working group created
by the Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Interior (DOI),
and ACHP has been meeting regularly. To ensure needed policy oversight,
ACHP has requested that DOT and DOI convene a meeting of the Washington
Sub-Group. An October 2001 meeting date has been proposed.
In September 1999 and then again in October 2000, the Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) amended the operations specifications (opspecs) for
Shuttle America airline, thus permitting the company to initiate and expand
commercial passenger service at Hanscom Field, a busy general aviation
airport in Bedford, Massachusetts.
As part of its mandate to regulate air safety, FAA must approve opspecs
for each airline specifying destinations for flights and the type of airplanes
that can be used. Shuttle America sought an opspecs amendment to introduce
its service to Hanscom Field and then asked for a second amendment to
operate between Hanscom Field and LaGuardia Airport in New York.
Previous efforts to maintain passenger service at Hanscom Field were
unsuccessful, but growing congestion at nearby Logan Airport has made
such service an increasingly attractive alternative. Thus, Shuttle America
flights at Hanscom Field quickly grew from four to 34 per day. (Once an
opspecs amendment is granted, an airline does not require further approval
by FAA to increase the number of flights offered.) The reintroduction
and swift expansion of commuter service at Hanscom Field after a 10-year
hiatus have caused significant public controversy regarding the potential
impact to historic properties.
Minute Man National Historical Park, Concord, Massachusetts (photo courtesy of National Park Service)
Hanscom Field is located within an extremely rich historic environment.
The airport lies just north of Minute Man National Historical Park, site
of the opening battles of the American Revolution, and is surrounded by
four historic communities: Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, and Bedford. These
towns contain numerous properties listed in or eligible for the National
Register of Historic Places and 10 National Historic Landmarks (NHLs).
Several of these NHLs, including Walden Pond, are associated with the
areas influential authors of the 19th century, including Thoreau,
Emerson, Hawthorne, and Alcott. (For more information on Minute Man National
Historical Park, visit www.nps.gov/mima.)
Citizens groups, local governments, and the National Park Service have
raised serious questions regarding the potential environmental impacts
of commercial passenger service at Hanscom Field. In addition to concern
for noise impacts, opponents are concerned that automobile traffic generated
by the new passenger service will adversely affect the Battle Road, along
which the April 1775 battles were fought. This historic road within the
park offers virtually the only access to Hanscom Field and is already
overtaxed by growing amounts of traffic.
ACHP first became aware of the Hanscom Field situation in September
1999, at about the same time that FAA issued its first opspecs amendment
to Shuttle America. ACHP then corresponded with and met with FAA
representatives on several occasions to try to clarify the applicability
of Section 106 to the Shuttle America opspecs amendments. FAA argued both
that opspecs actions are not undertakings subject to Section 106 review
and that, even if they are, FAA has adequately complied with the law in
this case. ACHP staff maintained that both of these arguments were
While discussions proceeded, FAA initiated consultation with the Massachusetts
State Historic Preservation Office on the second proposed Shuttle America
opspecs amendment. However, in October 2000, FAA proceeded to grant the
requested amendment. This action prompted local citizens and municipalities
to bring suit against FAA in the U.S. Court of Appeals.
In October 2000, ACHP recommended that FAA partner with its sister
transportation agency, the Federal Highway Administration, to explore
convening a working group to address the potential effects of commercial
passenger service at Hanscom Field. Several planning meetings culminated
in January 2001 with execution of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
between the Department of Transportation, the Department of Interior,
The MOU establishes a working group with sub-groups at the headquarters
and field levels. This creates a formal partnership among the Federal
agencies to promotein consultation with non-Federal partiesprotection
of Minute Man National Historical Park and other historic properties from
current and future transportation impacts. FAA Administrator Jane Garvey
has been personally involved in leading the working group.
The issuance or amendment of opspecs is a classic example of a Federal
undertaking where there is a relatively small degree of Federal involvement
relative to the resulting action. In this case, there is even disagreement
on whether FAAs actions can be considered an undertaking subject
to Section 106. The creation of the working group of Federal agencies
to address the fundamental issue of transportation managementboth
surface and airin this historic area may serve as an important model
for future collaborative efforts to protect significant cultural resources.
Staff contact: Druscilla Null
June 6, 2002
Return to Top