Georgia DOT signs agreement to streamline approvals for highway construction

Dec. 12, 2019

This first-of-its-kind agreement will set the framework to encompass all types of transportation improvement projects

An agreement signed by the Georgia DOT (GDOT) along with other agencies will streamline the completion of certain approval processes for historic preservation during highway construction in the state.

This first-of-its-kind Section 106 Programmatic Agreement (PA) will set the framework to encompass all types of transportation improvement projects from major widenings to new location bypasses.

Since December 2017, GDOT has worked with Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Savannah District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), the Georgia State Historic Preservation Office (GA SHPO), and Georgia’s 20 federally recognized American Indian Tribes to develop a programmatic approach for transportation projects throughout the state. Numerous meetings resulted in multiple drafts. The public reviewed and submitted comments on the final version.

This PA was necessitated by GDOT’s growing program that uses both federal and state funds and includes numerous projects subject to Section 106 required by FHWA and the USACE for project completion. The previous agreements did not include the USACE which resulted in reintroducing projects for new rounds of approvals. This delayed project delivery on state funded projects requiring a USACE permit. The PA streamlines the Section 106 process by putting in place procedures that all signatories will follow.

Another key aspect and benefit of the new PA is that federally recognized American Indian tribes with ancestral homelands in Georgia have been active participants in development of the PA. Currently, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation has elected to sign as an invited signatory, and the Cherokee Nation and Catawba Indian Nation have elected to sign as concurring parties to the agreement. The PA delegates routine Section 106 activities to GDOT Cultural Resources professionals and allows for GDOT to assist in coordination with federally recognized American Indian tribes.

The PA solidified and clarified how the agencies are to conduct tribal consultation, project review, post review discoveries, and identification and treatment of human remains in practical application. The PA also addresses all resource types, both historic and archaeological, and ensures collaboration and efficiency in documentation where applicable. USACE will adopt the benefits of streamlining efforts previously established between GDOT, FHWA, ACHP, and SHPO.



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