Interstate system could be historic landmark

News AASHTO Journal July 16, 2004
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A delegation of state transportation officials met with FHWA Administrator Mary Peters to express concerns about the possible i

A delegation of state transportation officials met with FHWA Administrator Mary Peters to express concerns about the possible impacts of a Programmatic Agreement designating the interstate highway system as eligible for the National Historic Register.


The issue has arisen because of a proposed FHWA Programmatic Agreement that would treat the interstate system as a whole as historic. It would provide states with avenues for exemption from Section 106 and 4(f) Historic Reviews for certain activities on individual sections identified as not historically significant.


At the request of AASHTO President John Njord, FHWA Administrator Mary Peters agreed to extend the comment period on the proposed Programmatic Agreement 30 days until July 21, and invited a policy-level delegation from AASHTO to meet with her so she could better understand state DOT views.


Peters explained in the meeting that the reason the Administration had approached Congress to enact a legislative solution in this area, and is pursuing an administrative solution with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, is to find a way to protect state DOTs and individual elements of the interstate highway system from being subjected to piecemeal administrative slowdowns and challenges. As the interstate system approaches its 50-year mark in 2006, the concern has been raised that this may make it eligible for designation under the National Register of Historic Places.


Ohio Director of Transportation Gordon Proctor led the AASHTO delegation in the meeting with Peters, her senior environmental staff and U.S. DOT Assistant Secretary for Policy Emil Frankel. Proctor stated that AASHTO hopes FHWA would continue to work with Congress to exempt the interstate system from 4(f) and Section 106 "historic reviews," and only consider an administrative approach once the legislative process has been completed.


FHWA invited AASHTO to submit its concerns in writing by July 21.


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