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Congress Passes Transportation
Passes Transportation Reauthorization Bill
On August 10, 2005,
President Bush signed the $285 billion surface transportation reauthorization
bill, known as SAFETEA-LU. The law includes about $3.25 billion in funding for
transportation enhancements over the next five years, and allocates $10 million
per year for four years for the rehabilitation, repair, and preservation of historic
text of SAFETEA-LU
(in PDF; may take a moment
Other provisions related to historic preservation
and Section 106 compliance include:
- Substitution of Section 106
for 4(f): The law includes a compromise that allows an exemption from Section
4(f) procedures for projects with minor, or "de minimis" impacts on
historic resources where there is no adverse effect on an historic property with
written concurrence from the SHPO and involvement by consulting parties.
provision in some earlier versions of the bill that would have authorized use
of transportation funding to support the expedited review of transportation projects
by State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPOs), Tribal Historic Preservation
Officers, and the ACHP did not survive.
- Standards for determining
"prudent and feasible:" The 4(f) measure also includes a requirement
that the Department of Transportation (DOT) issue a regulation to establish standards
for determining "prudent and feasible alternatives" under Section 4(f).
The regulation must be developed in consultation with affected agencies
and interested parties and completed within one year after the date of enactment
of the transportation bill.
- Implementation study: The
bill requires that DOT conduct a study on the implementation of the above two
changes to Section 4(f) and prepare a report within three years on the results
of the study. The report is to be submitted to the appropriate committees of Congress,
the Secretary of the Interior, and the ACHP for review.
highway exemption: The law exempts the Interstate Highway System from consideration
as a historic resource under Section 4(f) while allowing individual elements with
historic significance to remain subject to the provision.
was revised from early drafts so that the Section 4(f) exemption will match the
process established in the ACHP's administrative exemption from Section 106 review
for the interstate system.
- Nationwide Programmatic Agreement
(PA) regarding intelligent transportation systems: The law directs DOT to
develop a nationwide PA governing the review of activities that support the deployment
of intelligent transportation infrastructure and systems (ITS) in accordance with
Section 106 and the ACHP's regulations.
The term "intelligent transportation
system" is defined to mean electronics, communications, or information processing
to improve the efficiency or safety of a surface transportation system. Development
of the PA will require consultation with the ACHP, National Conference of State
Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO), and other interested parties.
transportation planning: The bill includes a section on Metropolitan Transportation
Planning that calls for greater coordination with resource agencies, including
- State assumption of responsibility for categorial exclusions:
The law also authorizes DOT to assign to any State the responsibility for making
categorical exclusion determinations under the National Environmental Policy Act
(NEPA), and for "environmental review, consultation, or other related actions
required under any Federal law applicable to activities that are classified by
the Secretary as categorial exclusions, with the exception of government-to-government
consultation with Indian tribes."
The ACHP will work with DOT and
NCSHPO to evaluate the implications for the Section 106 process of the legislative
delegation of authority to States, which appears to be similar to the delegation
of certain HUD programs to local governments.
- Pilot programs
for State delegation: The law includes a surface transportation pilot program,
to run six years, under which five States may assume responsiblity for compliance
with NEPA and other environmental laws for one or more highway projects within
The States selected for this pilot include Alaska, California,
Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas. Another three year pilot program included in the law
authorizes DOT to authorize five States, yet unidentified, to assume responsibility
for environmental review (with the exception of tribal consultation) for undertakings
carried out under the transportation enhancements and recreational trails programs.
more about the ACHP
Posted August 29, 2005
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