A preservation law that has protected the nation’s historic places from threats posed by transportation projects for nearly half a century is at risk as never before. On Thursday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee favorably reported a long-term transportation bill, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 (H.R.3763), clearing the way for the bill to be voted on by the full House of Representatives. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has advocated fervently against a particular provision (Section 1301) in the bill that could significantly undermine the nation’s strongest preservation law, known as Section 4(f).
Section 4(f) was enacted in 1966 as part of the law to establish the Department of Transportation. Congress included this strong statutory safeguard to avoid destroying historic and other protected sites for construction of transportation projects. The language of Section 4(f) requires the preservation of a threatened historic site unless there is “no feasible and prudent alternative” and the project includes “all possible planning to minimize harm.” This statutory requirement has become an indispensable safeguard to protect our nation’s historic and cultural resources.... Read More →