Section 11504 of the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) directs the Secretary of Transportation to develop a proposed exemption of railroad rights-of-way (ROW) from review under the requirements of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (Section 106). The proposed Section 106 exemption for rail ROW would be approved by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), and be consistent with the Section 106 exemption for the Interstate Highway System approved by the ACHP in 2005.
As described in the November 17, 2017 Federal Register Notice, the required exemption has been incorporated into a draft program comment, which is a type of Section 106 program alternative allowable under the ACHP’s regulations. The draft program comment includes a two-part approach: 1) Exempted activities that are likely to have effects to historic rail properties that are minimal or not adverse; and 2) An optional Project Sponsor-led property-based approach that ultimately could streamline the Section 106 review for additional types of transportation-related undertakings involving railroad and rail transit properties, including those that may cause adverse effects.
FRA, in coordination with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the USDOT Office of the Secretary, and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), has led the development of the proposed Section 106 exemption for rail ROW.
The Federal Register Notice describes the outreach that FRA and FTA have conducted to date with historic preservation and transportation stakeholders. In addition, copies of webinars presented in December 2016 and January 2017 are available at the links below.
The Federal Register Notice invites public comments on the draft Section 106 Program Comment for rail ROW and provides instructions for submitting comments to FRA and the ACHP.
The comment period is open through December 8, 2017.