[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 243 (Tuesday, December 19, 2006)]
[Notices]
[Pages 76019-76021]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E6-21581]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Highway Administration

[FHWA Docket No. FHWA-2006-24902]


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

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: The FHWA is issuing this notice to announce the final list of 
nationally and exceptionally significant features of the Federal 
Interstate Highway System. The list is available at http://
www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/histpres/highways.asp. In developing the 
final list, the FHWA considered public comments received on the 
preliminary list of exceptional elements, which was published in the 
Federal Register on June 16, 2006 (71 FR 34988). This notice summarizes 
those comments. Exemptions of the Interstate Highway System from 
consideration as historic property under the provisions of section 106 
of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and section 4(f) of 
the Department of Transportation Act of 1966 \1\ will not apply to the 
elements on this list.
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    \1\ Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966 
was technically repealed in 1983 when it was codified without 
substantive change and 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.

DATES: The final list of nationally and exceptionally significant 
features of the Federal Interstate Highway System is effective December 
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19, 2006.

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 7th 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

    Internet users may access all comments received by the U.S. DOT 
Dockets, Room PL-401, by using the universal resource locator (URL) for 
the Document Management System (DMS) at http://dms.dot.gov. The DMS is 
available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year.
    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

    As the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and 
Defense Highways (Interstate System) approached its 50th Anniversary, 
the potential for vast sections of highway to reach the mark at which 
resources are often evaluated for historic significance raised the 
issue of an overwhelming administrative burden for the myriad routine 
undertakings affecting the Interstate System. Accordingly, on February 
18, 2005, the Section 106 Exemption Regarding Effects to the Interstate 
Highway System was adopted by the Advisory Council on Historic 
Preservation (ACHP) to minimize the administrative burden on agencies 
responsible for highway maintenance and improvements.\2\ This exemption 
effectively excluded 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) reauthorization legislation (Pub. 
L. 109-59, August 10, 2005) included a provision (Section 6007) that 
exempts the bulk of the Interstate System from consideration as an 
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 System as historic property under Section 106 and Section 
4(f) requirements. Interstate improvement projects are still subject to 
these respective processes with regard to those resources listed on or 
eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places that 
are not integral parts of the Interstate System.
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    \2\ The ACHP's approved exemption was published in the Federal 
Register on March 10, 2005, at 70 FR 11928.

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[[Page 76020]]

    Under Section II of the ACHP's Section 106 exemption, certain 
elements of the Interstate 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 set forth the process by which the FHWA 
was to identify these elements in consultation with stakeholders in 
each State. Section 6007 of SAFETEA-LU (codified at 23 U.S.C. 
103(c)(5)) adopted by reference the same process for identifying 
exclusions to the Section 4(f) exemption. Under this process, elements 
of the Interstate System to be excluded from the exemptions were 
required to meet at least one of the following criteria for 
significance:
    1. National Significance. The element is at least 50 years old and 
meets the National Register of Historic Places (National Register) 
criteria \3\ 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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    \3\ Information on the National Register standards for 
evaluating the significance 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.
    The FHWA published a notice on June 16, 2006, (71 FR 34988) 
describing the collaborative process used to identify properties that 
should be excluded from the Section 106 and Section 4(f) exemptions. 
The notice also published and requested comments on a preliminary list 
of properties recommended for exclusion by teams of Federal, State, and 
local stakeholders within each State.
    After reviewing the comments submitted on the preliminary list, the 
FHWA has revised and finalized the list of exceptional Interstate 
System elements, as described below. Properties included on this list 
will continue to be subject to the requirements of Sections 106 and 
4(f).

II. Discussion of Comments and Responses

A. Summary of Comments

    In response to the June 16, 2006, notice, the FHWA received 55 sets 
of comments on the preliminary list. Comments were submitted by a 
variety of individuals and organizations, including: State Department 
of Transportation (DOT) representatives (18); private citizens (17); 
transportation-related associations or professional groups (9); State 
Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) representatives (4); turnpike or 
toll road authorities (4); city officials (2); and a State legislature 
(1). Most of the comments addressed the inclusion of elements on the 
preliminary list, with 26 suggesting that one or more elements be 
removed, 19 requesting that elements be retained, and three suggesting 
that elements be added. Such comments addressed 51 unique elements of 
the Interstate System. The remaining seven comments addressed other 
issues: a few raised questions about the process of identifying 
excluded elements with several suggesting the process was too limited 
and might overlook significant resources while another found the 
process and resulting list to be over-inclusive. Other comments voiced 
appreciation for the opportunity to provide input on the list and a few 
pointed out inaccuracies in the justification statements of particular 
elements.

B. Response to Comments

    After the public comment period ended, the FHWA categorized the 
comments into two main groups: those that required action and those 
that did not. Comments requiring action included suggested changes to 
the list itself (i.e., addition or removal of properties) and questions 
or statements requiring additional research (e.g., suggested 
corrections to the justification statements). The FHWA addressed 
comments that suggested changes to the list via a collaborative 
process, as detailed below. For comments requiring additional research, 
the FHWA worked with qualified cultural resource management specialists 
to locate the information in question and revise justification 
statements, as appropriate. General comments about approach and 
methodology are addressed below.
    As described in the June 16, 2006, notice, the FHWA engaged 
representatives from FHWA Division Offices, State DOTs, SHPOs, and 
other stakeholders (where appropriate) within each of the 50 States and 
the District of Columbia to identify elements that should remain 
subject to Section 106 and 4(f) requirements. At the conclusion of the 
public comment period, the FHWA noted that a number of comments were 
significant enough to require additional discussion with the ``teams'' 
of representatives that helped to develop the initial list. Such 
comments included requests for the removal of certain elements from the 
list or the addition of new elements to the list. In August and 
September of 2006, the FHWA convened and participated in a series of 
conference calls to discuss significant comments on elements in 10 
States; invited to participate in each call were the original team of 
State representatives and all those who submitted comments on the 
elements in the State. Each call was facilitated by the cultural 
resource management specialist who worked with the State in developing 
its initial list and included representation from FHWA Headquarters. 
The goals of engaging State teams and commenters in this manner were to 
provide a forum for open communication between stakeholders and FHWA 
and to attempt to reach consensus on a final list of elements in each 
State.
    While the effort to identify excepted elements to the broad 
exemptions for the Interstate System references some of the basic 
principles for determining eligibility to the National Register, the 
survey of this 47,000-mile resource could not be conducted at a level 
of great detail, nor was it expected to provide definitive 
justification for National Register eligibility. The intent of the 
process was to determine which resources appeared to rise to the 
national and/or exceptional level in order that they be afforded the

[[Page 76021]]

consideration of review under Section 106 and Section 4(f), while 
immediately exempting the vast majority of the Interstate System. This 
initial look was not intended to apply the same rigor with which a 
formal determination of eligibility is conducted, but to retain the 
ability to apply the full 106 and 4(f) processes to those elements 
which appeared to rise to that level. Application of the Section 106 
process would provide additional detailed information regarding 
eligibility upon which the balance of the review(s) would proceed. It 
is therefore conceivable that in the course of consideration under the 
respective reviews, some of the resources included in the final list of 
exceptional elements of the Interstate may be determined not eligible 
for inclusion in the National Register. In that case, no further 
consideration of the specific Interstate element as a historic property 
is required under either of the statutory provisions. Should a resource 
be validated as National Register eligible, most improvements would 
likely be able to be made in a way that does not adversely affect its 
significant characteristics. In such cases, Section 106 could be 
completed very simply and Section 4(f) would not apply. In any case, 
inclusion on the list in no way implies that these resources cannot be 
maintained and improved to continue to safely serve the traveling 
public.
    Two commenters suggested that there was some inconsistency between 
the criteria cited in the original Section 106 exemption and the 
guidance for applying the criteria subsequently distributed in January 
2006 by FHWA.\4\ However, the guidance was clearly supplemental to the 
language of the actual Section 106 exemption, which was adopted by 
SAFETEA-LU Section 6007, and was not intended to supersede it. As the 
criteria were applied in the course of this process, those resources 
less than 50 years old apparently meeting the standards of 
``exceptional,'' were also deemed to carry national significance within 
the context of the Interstate Highway System.
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    \4\ ``Guidance to apply the Criteria for the Identification of 
Nationally Significant and Exceptionally Significant Elements of the 
Interstate Highway System'' is available at: http://
www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/histpres/highways.asp.
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III. Changes to List of Exceptionally and Nationally Significant 
Features

    After considering the comments submitted during the public comment 
period and the views expressed during the subsequent conference calls 
with teams in several States, the FHWA has made several modifications 
to the list of exceptional Interstate System features. The final list 
includes 132 unique features--20 fewer features than the preliminary 
list contained (152). Specifically, the FHWA has removed 26 elements 
from and added 6 elements to the list. The final list may be viewed at 
http://www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/histpres/highways.asp.

    Authority: 23 U.S.C. 103(c)(5)(B); Sec. 6007 of Pub. L. 109-59.

    Issued on: December 12, 2006.
J. Richard Capka,
Federal Highway Administrator.
 [FR Doc. E6-21581 Filed 12-18-06; 8:45 am]
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