Balancing Preservation and Transportation Needs
The relationship between the Nation's transportation infrastructure and places of historical, cultural, and environmental importance is complex. In order to build and improve the transportation system while maintaining the integrity of historic places and environmental resources, the Federal Government has enacted several regulations to guide transportation planning and project development. These regulations include Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act.
To assist those who carry out or are affected by transportation projects, the National Highway Institute (NHI) offers a 3-day course that introduces the basics of historic preservation law and compliance. Course 142049 Beyond Compliance: Historic Preservation in Transportation Project Development presents the fundamentals of Section 106, which requires Federal agencies to take into account the effects of their projects on properties listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, and places them in context with other environmental requirements. The course also examines effective practices that integrate the Section 106 process with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and Section 4(f). Hosting agencies can tailor the course to meet their individual needs and those of their participants.
Streamlined Review Process
Course 142049 presents a number of innovative approaches to Section 106 compliance that result in streamlined and enhanced environmental reviews and project delivery. A critical component of compliance involves balancing historic preservation concerns with the needs of Federal undertakings through consultation with resource agencies, stakeholders, and the public, and considering historic preservation factors during transportation planning and early project development.
The course also provides information about consulting with federally recognized Native American tribes in the context of the Section 106 process. Participants are provided with guidance on how to consult effectively with tribes, taking into account their varied religious and cultural values.
Customized Training Content
Prior to each session, NHI instructors work with the staff of the hosting State department of transportation to address local historic preservation and project delivery issues and concerns. For example, before presenting multiple sessions of course 142049 in Hawaii, NHI customized the training to reflect the State's existing transportation programs and procedures for meeting local historic preservation goals, including working with Native Hawaiian organizations. The National Historic Preservation Act defines Native Hawaiian organizations as "any organization [that] serves and represents the interests of Native Hawaiians; has as a primary and stated purpose the provision of services to Native Hawaiians; and has demonstrated expertise in aspects of historic preservation that are significant to Native Hawaiians." These organizations play a major role in transportation planning in the State. NHI worked closely with the Hawaii Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Hawaii Division to incorporate into the course curriculum materials and information specific to consulting with these organizations.
"Native Hawaiian organizations are different from tribes because they are not structured governments that qualify as nations recognized by the Federal government, so we customized the course to address their specific role in the process," says MaryAnn Naber, Federal preservation officer with FHWA. "We wanted to make it relevant to those in Hawaii so we changed case studies, images, and one whole unit to apply to Native Hawaiian organizations."
Pat Phung, lead civil engineer with the FHWA Hawaii Division, has participated in the course more than once and found the customization extremely helpful in making it applicable to Hawaiian transportation projects. "The course brings higher awareness to the challenges and opportunities of working with Native Hawaiian organizations," says Phung. "It addresses significant places of worship, historic sites, and geographic features that we try to avoid or where we at least minimize our footprint. The course even included Hawaiian words and local issues that really made it real for participants."
For course details and to schedule a session, visit NHI's Web site at www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov.
Candice Jackson is a contractor for NHI.