general nav links About ACHP
Federal, State, & Tribal Programs
Training & Education
| skip specific nav links
Home Historic Preservation Programs & Officers Federal FHWA
Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transport Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU)
On August 10, 2005, President George W. Bush signed the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). SAFETEA-LU authorizes the Federal surface transportation programs for highways, highway safety, and transit for the 5-year period 2005-2009 (read more here).
Proposed Transportation Reauthorization 2010-2015
To ensure sufficient funding to the end of the fiscal year, President Obama signed (on August 7, 2009) Public Law 111-046, which provides a $7 billion infusion into the Highway Trust Fund to keep the account solvent until the end of the current fiscal year. This bill adds funding to the Highway Trust fund, but does not extend the existing authorization past the end of the fiscal year.
Last June, U.S. Congressman James Oberstar (D-Minnesota) introduced a new surface transportation reauthorization to replace the current authorization (SAFETEA-LU) which expires on September 30, 2009. Despite the Obama administration's preference that surface transportation authorization legislation be postponed for 18 months, Oberstar, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman, planned to have a full committee mark-up of the 775-page bill in late July. However, the Committee has not reported any recent progress on long-term reauthorization bill.
Although the bill, which was introduced on June 20, 2009, proposes to significantly restructure surface transportation funding and consolidate programs into four core categories, it does not contain any radical departures from the existing environmental protections provided in SAFETEA-LU. The provisions of interest to historic preservation advocates include:
Title I: Federal-Aid Highways
Title III: Public Transportation
Title VI: Rail Transportation
FHWA’S NEPA Regulations
The ACHP’s Regulations at 36 CFR 800.8 encourage Federal agencies to coordinate Section 106 consultation with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). FHWA also encourages this coordination, and has established its own regulations and guidance for implementing NEPA for surface transportation projects. FHWA offers training on NEPA compliance through the National Highway Institute, including a three-day on-site course for FHWA divisions on effectively coordinating Section 106, NEPA, and Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act (read more here). For information on FHWA’s NEPA regulations and implementing guidance click here.
Department of Transportation agencies may not approve the use of land from a significant publicly owned public park, recreation area, or wildlife and waterfowl refuge, or any significant historic site unless a determination is made that there is no feasible and prudent alternative to the use of the land from the property; and the action includes all possible planning to minimize harm to the property resulting from such use. This requirement provides historic properties subject to Section 106 additional protection by imposing strict requirements for transportation agencies, including FHWA, to document that there is no feasible and prudent alternative to the "use" of a historic property.
A new Section 4(f) Final Rule, 23 CFR 774, was published in the Federal Register on March 12, 2008. The effective date of the regulation is April 11, 2008. This final rule modifies the existing procedures for granting Section 4(f) approvals in five ways:
Finding of De Minimis Impact
Section 6009(a) of SAFETEA-LU provides that an analysis of avoidance alternatives is not required if the FHWA (or other Department of Transportation agency) determines that the transportation use of a Section 4(f) property will result in a de minimis impact. The use of a finding of de minimis impact for Section 4(f) compliance is included in the Section 4(f) rule, as follows: “A finding of de minimis impact on a historic site may be made when: The Section 106 process results in the determination of “no adverse effect” or “no historic properties affected” with the concurrence of the SHPO and/or THPO, and the ACHP if participating in the Section 106 consultation; The SHPO and/or THPO, and the ACHP if participating in the Section 106 consultation, is informed of FHWA’s or FTA’s intent to make a de minimis impact finding based on their written concurrence in the Section 106 determination; and FHWA or FTA has considered the views of any consulting parties participation in the Section 106 consultation.”
Programmatic 4(f) Analyses for Historic Properties
FHWA has prepared two nationwide programmatic Section 4(f) evaluations that may be used with historic properties. The first sets forth the basis for a programmatic Section 4(f) approval when there are no feasible and prudent alternatives to the use of certain historic bridge structures to be replaced or rehabilitated with Federal funds and that the projects include all possible planning to minimize harm resulting from such use. The second programmatic Section 4(f) may be used when FHWA determines, and the agency with jurisdiction agrees, that the transportation project will have a net benefit to a Section 4(f) property. For more information see:
Information on FHWA'S Planning and Historic Preservation Programs
Updated September 18, 2009