Return to Case Digest Archives
skip general nav links ACHP home About ACHP


National Historic

Working with
Section 106

Federal, State, & Tribal Programs

Training & Education


 skip specific nav links
Home arrow Working with Section 106 arrow ACHP Case Digest arrow Spring 2002 arrow Nebraska: Construction of Beltway Around Lincoln
Nebraska: Construction of Beltway Around Lincoln

Agency: Federal Highway Administration

In a classic case illustrating the effects of sprawl, proposed construction of a four-lane beltway around Lincoln, Nebraska, has the potential to affect a large number of rural cultural landscapes potentially eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. ACHP has emphasized that the effects on these historic properties from future development around a new beltway should be considered in the plan.

FHWA has proposed to provide financial assistance to the Nebraska Department of Roads to build a four-lane south and east beltway around Lincoln, Nebraska. Three alternatives have been suggested for the east route that are at various distances from downtown Lincoln.

The farthest proposed route from the city appears to be the one that would directly affect the most historic properties. They include many historic farmsteads such as the Herter’s-Hagaman Farm, Haeger Dairy, and the Stevens Creek Stock Farm, which was placed on the National Trust’s for Historic Preservation’s “Eleven Most Endangered Historic Places” list.

Stevens Creek Settlements, Lincoln, Nebraska



Stevens Creek Stock Farm, Lincoln, NE (photo courtesy of Preservation Association of Lincoln)




FHWA suggested the alternative routes in a 2001 draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which also included a discussion of the historic properties that may be affected by the routes and an assessment of effects that may result from the proposed beltway.

ACHP disagreed with FHWA’s finding that effects to historic properties from future development around the new beltway did not need to be considered because the City of Lincoln developed a comprehensive plan for managing future growth. Although the comprehensive plan may serve to help mitigate the effects of associated growth, the effects of growth on these rural historic properties needed to be considered under both the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.

In addition, other consulting parties in the case raised questions about the appropriate boundaries of the historic properties identified in the draft EIS.

ACHP consulted with FHWA, the Nebraska State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), and the National Trust to see if the disagreement could be resolved without requiring FHWA to seek a formal determination on the appropriate boundaries of the historic properties from the Keeper of the National Register.

Because an agreement could not be reached, however, ACHP decided that a formal determination from the Keeper was the most expedient way of resolving the disagreement, and it requested FHWA to seek a final determination of eligibility for seven historic farmsteads. FHWA did not comply with this request citing that the mid-distance alternative, rather than the farthest proposed route, would be chosen in the final EIS and thus would not directly affect the properties in question.

The consulting parties, including ACHP, the City of Lincoln, the Nebraska Department of Roads, the Nebraska SHPO, the National Trust, and Citizens for a Responsible Route Selection, agreed that the mid-distance alternative was the best choice since it would have the least impact on historic properties. They drafted a Memorandum of Agreement with FHWA that addresses both direct and indirect effects that may result from the mid-distance alternative.

The agreement, which was signed by all parties in May 2002, calls for development of a landscape design around certain areas of the project to screen visual impacts, and for historic property owners to work with the National Trust to set up conservation easements to protect their land from potential future development resulting from the beltway.

Staff contact: Jane Crisler

Posted July 2, 2002

Return to Top