[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 116 (Friday, June 16, 2006)]
[Notices]
[Pages 34988-34990]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E6-9454]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Highway Administration

[FHWA Docket No. FHWA-2006-24902]


Preliminary List of Nationally and Exceptionally Significant 
Features of the Federal Interstate Highway System

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: The FHWA is seeking public input on preliminary list of 
elements to be excluded from exemptions of the Interstate Highway 
System from consideration as historic property under the provisions of 
section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and section 4(f) 
of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966.\1\ This list is 
available at http://www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/histpres/index.asp. 
This notice contains a link to and the process for interested members 
of the public to comment on the preliminary list of elements to be 
excluded from the respective exemptions of the Interstate Highway 
System from consideration as historic property under the authorities 
cited above. Comments received from the public will be factored into 
development of a final list of exceptional elements of the Interstate 
System.
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    \1\ Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966 
wastechnically repealed in 1983 when it was codified without 
substantive change at 49 U.S.C. 303. A provision with the same 
meaning is found at 23 U.S.C. 138 and applies only to FHWA actions. 
We continue to refer to section 4(f) as such because it would create 
needless confusion to do otherwise; the policies section 4(f) 
engendered are widely referred to as ``Section 4(f)'' matters.

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DATES: Comments must be received on or before July 17, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Mail or hand deliver comments to the U.S. Department of 
Transportation, Dockets Management Facility, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh 
Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590, or submit electronically at http://dms.dot.gov or fax comments to (202) 493-2251. All comments should 
include the docket number that appears in the heading of this document. 
All comments received will be available for examination and copying at 
the above address from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays. Those desiring notification of receipt of 
comments must include a self-addressed, stamped postcard or may print 
the acknowledgment page that appears after submitting comments 
electronically. Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all 
comments received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual 
submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf 
of an association, business, labor union, etc.). Persons making 
comments may review DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal 
Register published on April 11, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 70, Pages 
19477-78), or may visit http://dems.dot.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: MaryAnn Naber, HEPE, (202) 366-2060; 
Federal Highway Administration; 400 7th Street, SW., Washington, DC 
20590; Harold Aikens, Office of the Chief Counsel, HCC-30, (202) 366-
0791; Federal Highway Administration, 400 Seventh Street, SW., 
Washington, DC 20590-0001. Office hours are from 7:45 a.m. to 4:15 
p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Electronic Access and Filing

    You may submit or retrieve online through the Document Management 
system (DMS) at: http://dmses.dot.gov/submit. The DMS is available 24-
hours each day, 365 days each year. Electronic submission and retrieval 
help and guidelines are available under the help section of the Web 
site.
    An electronic copy of this document may be downloaded by using the 
Internet to reach the Office of the Federal Register's home page at 
http://www.archives.gov and the Government Printing Office's Web site 
at http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara.

I. Background

    Section 106 requires that Federal agencies take into account the 
effect of their actions on historic properties and afford the Advisory 
Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) an opportunity to comment on 
those effects. Historic properties are defined as those either listed 
on or eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic 
Places (National Register).\2\ Section 4(f) mandates that DOT agencies 
may not use historic sites, among other protected resources, unless 
there is no prudent and feasible alternative. As the Dwight D. 
Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways 
(Interstate System) approached the 50th Anniversary, some of its 
elements were already at least 50 years of age and large sections would 
soon be achieving that mark at which resources are often evaluated for 
historic significance. The potential for vast sections of the 
Interstate System to be considered historic raised the issue of an 
overwhelming administrative burden for the myriad routine undertakings 
affecting the Interstate System, even for basic maintenance and 
improvements. Accordingly, on February 18, 2005, the ACHP adopted the 
Section 106 Exemption Regarding Effects to the Interstate Highway 
System.\3\ This exemption effectively excludes the majority of the 
46,700-mile Interstate System from consideration as a historic property 
under section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). In 
addition, the recently enacted Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient 
Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) re-
authorization legislation (Pub. L. 109-59, August 10, 2005) includes a 
provision (Section 6007) that exempts the bulk of the Interstate 
Highway System from consideration as a historic property under section 
4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act. With these two exemptions 
in place, all Federal agencies are no longer required to consider the 
vast majority of the Interstate Highway System as historic property 
under section 106 and section 4(f) requirements.
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    \2\ The National Register of Historic Places is the Nation's 
official list ofcultural resources worthy of preservation. 
Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the 
National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and 
support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and 
protect our historic and archeological resources. Properties listed 
in the Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and 
objects that are significant in American history, architecture, 
engineering, and culture. The National Park Service administers the 
National Register.
    \3\ The ACHP's approved exemption was published in the Federal 
Register on March 10, 2005, at 70 FR 11928.
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    Highways comprising the Interstate Highway System are denoted by 
the official red, white, and blue, or green

[[Page 34989]]

and white in Alaska, Interstate Highway System shield.\4\ All 
facilities within the right-of-way of these highways (e.g., road bed, 
engineering features, bridges, tunnels, rest stops, interchanges, off-
ramps, on-ramps, etc.) are considered to be part of the Interstate 
Highway System. Other highways (e.g., U.S. routes, State routes, etc.) 
not designated with the official shield are not part of the Interstate 
Highway System, and therefore are not eligible for either exemption.
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    \4\ See Section 2D.11 of the Manual on Uniform Traffic 
ControlDevices (MUTCD) for more information about the design of 
route signs. The MUTCD is available at the following URL: http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/pdfs/2003/pdf.index.htm.
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    Under Section II of the ACHP's section 106 exemption, certain 
elements of the Interstate Highway System, such as bridges, tunnels, 
and rest stops, shall be excluded from the exemption's provisions if 
they have national and/or exceptional historic significance. Section 
III of the ACHP's section 106 exemption sets forth the criteria by 
which the FHWA shall identify these elements in consultation with 
stakeholders in each State. Section 6007 of SAFETEA-LU (codified at 23 
U.S.C. 103(c)(5)) adopts by reference the same process for identifying 
exclusions to the section 4(f) exemption. Elements identified for 
exclusion will continue to be subject to the requirements of sections 
106 and 4(f). It does not mean that the excluded facilities cannot be 
modernized, rehabilitated, expanded or replaced after appropriate 
consideration under the aforementioned statutes.

II. Process

    The ACHP's section 106 exemption directed FHWA, at the headquarters 
level, to work with stakeholders at the State and local levels, to 
compile a list of excluded elements prior to the 50th Anniversary of 
the Interstate Highway System on June 29, 2006. The criteria set forth 
in the language of the respective exemptions were used to guide the 
process of identifying Interstate Highway System elements that should 
remain subject to section 106 and 4(f) requirements. Also, to assist in 
the process, the FHWA commissioned preparation of a historic context 
report for the Interstate Highway System (Interstate Historic Context 
Report). This report provides a detailed history of the evolution, 
development of design standards, and construction of the Interstate 
Highway System. It explains how the Interstate Highway System is 
significant within the areas of engineering, transportation, social 
history, and commerce, and it provides some specific examples of 
elements that are important within these areas. The draft context 
report is available at: http://www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/histpres/index.asp.

III. Exclusion Criteria

    Individual elements that are excluded from the exemptions may 
include bridges, tunnels, rest areas, medians, interchanges, ramps, 
highway segments, culverts, pedestrian overcrossings, lookout sites, 
visitor centers, retaining walls, signage, lighting, toll booths, and 
landscaping that are part of the Interstate Highway System. Elements 
must possess adequate integrity to convey their importance within the 
appropriate area(s) of significance: Engineering, transportation, 
social history, or commerce. In addition, per Section III of the ACHP's 
section 106 exemption, elements must meet at least one of the following 
criteria:
    1. National Significance. The element is at least 50 years old and 
meets the National Register criteria \5\ for national significance as 
defined in 36 CFR 65.4. In particular, the quality of national 
significance is ascribed to resources that possess exceptional value or 
quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United 
States in history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture 
and that possess a high degree of integrity.
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    \5\ Information on the National Register standards for 
evaluating thesignificance of properties and its criteria for 
listing may be found at the following URL: http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/listing.htm.
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    2. Exceptional Significance. The element is less than 50 years old 
and meets the National Register criteria consideration for exceptional 
importance. The first step in evaluating properties of recent 
significance is to identify the appropriate area(s) of significance: 
engineering, transportation, social history, or commerce. Then, 
deliberate and distinct justification for the ``exceptional 
importance'' of the resource must be made. The phrase ``exceptional 
importance'' may be applied to the element's extraordinary impact on an 
event or for the quality of its design or because it may be one of very 
few survivors of a resource type. Standard design elements, by their 
very nature, are not exceptional.
    3. Listed or Determined Eligible by the Keeper. The element is 
listed in the National Register or has previously been determined 
eligible by the Keeper of the National Register.
    4. State or Local Significance. At the discretion of the FHWA, 
elements may be included in the list of excluded elements if they are 
at least 50 years old, were later incorporated into the Interstate 
Highway System, and meet the National Register criteria for evaluation 
as defined in 36 CFR 60.4 at the State or local level of significance.

IV. Methodology

    The FHWA identified exceptional elements for the preliminary list 
by soliciting input and conducting facilitated meetings with key 
representatives from each State and the District of Columbia. The 
details of this process are described in the following paragraphs.
    Points of contact from the FHWA Division Offices, Departments of 
Transportation (DOTs), and State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) 
were identified within each of the 50 States and the District of 
Columbia. Where possible, contacts also were identified within 
organizations capable of providing additional information relevant to 
this process (e.g., facility owners, local, State, or national road-
related historical groups).
    Guidance materials for applying the criteria detailed above were 
prepared and distributed to the points of contact identified within 
each State. These materials included representative examples of 
property types and individual historic elements. After distributing the 
guidance materials and appropriate background information to each 
State's ``team'' of representatives, FHWA held State-by-State 
conference calls, inviting pertinent points of contact identified 
within each State to participate. These calls were facilitated by 
qualified cultural resource management specialists and were intended 
to: (a) Ensure that all team members understood the details of the 
exemptions and the criteria for identifying potentially significant 
elements; and (b) provide a forum for brainstorming for potential 
elements within the State that merited consideration for exclusion. In 
cases where all points of contact were not able to participate in the 
initial conference call, absent individuals were contacted separately 
by phone and provided with meeting minutes to keep them apprised of the 
project and any relevant discussions.
    Following the initial round of 51 conference calls, each State team 
was given several weeks to collaborate and determine whether there was 
consensus on a list of elements to be excluded from the exemptions. As 
necessary, the FHWA provided support to conduct limited research on 
potentially significant elements. Teams were asked to provide the FHWA 
with standardized information for each of the resources

[[Page 34990]]

identified in their lists including, location (Interstate number and 
milepost and/or crossing), name of resource, property type, year(s) of 
construction, level of significance (national, State, or local), and 
nature of significance for inclusion in the list. In addition, teams 
were asked to provide brief justifications of significance for each 
element on the list. As expected by the FHWA, some States were unable 
to identify any Interstate Highway System elements that strongly convey 
a particular area of significance at a level of exceptional or national 
importance.

V. Public Participation

    Based on the lists submitted by each State, the FHWA compiled a 
preliminary national list of elements to be excluded from the 
exemptions. This draft list is available at the following URL: http://www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/histpres/index.asp. Through public input 
and stakeholder involvement, the FHWA intends to refine the preliminary 
list of exceptional Interstate System elements. The draft list will be 
e-mailed to all stakeholders who participated in the process of 
identifying historic elements, as well as any additional individuals or 
organizations identified by the FHWA Division Offices, State DOTs, and 
SHPOs as having an interest. The FHWA is interested in feedback 
concerning the following specific aspects of the preliminary list:
     Whether it should include additional elements, which would 
continue to be considered as historic properties under the provisions 
of section 106 and section 4(f).
     Whether certain sites should be excluded from the final 
list based on application of the stated criteria.

Considerable stakeholder input has already been received and taken into 
consideration in developing this preliminary list. In addition, the 
section 106 exemption, which was previously published in the Federal 
Register and subject to public comments, requires the FHWA to 
designate, by June 30, 2006, individual elements on the Interstate 
System that will continue to be considered under section 106. 
Accordingly, the FHWA believe that a 30-day comment period for input 
from the general public at this time is deemed to be adequate. 
Commenters should submit comments as indicated above under 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

    Authority: 23 U.S.C. 103(c)(5)(B); Sec. 6007, Public Law 109-59.

    Issued on: June 12, 2006.
J. Richard Capka,
Federal Highway Administrator.
 [FR Doc. E6-9454 Filed 6-15-06; 8:45 am]
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