National Trust Urges Better Protections of Historic Resources in MAP-21 Reauthorization Act
Posted May 15, 2014 | Contact email@example.com or 202-588-6141
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee released on Monday the provisions of its surface transportation reauthorization bill, known as the MAP-21 Reauthorization Act. The following is a statement by Thomas J. Cassidy, Vice President, Government Relations & Public Policy of the National Trust for Historic Preservation:
“We are deeply concerned that the MAP-21 Reauthorization Act would severely undercut the long-standing preservation benefits of section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act. Since its original enactment, section 4(f) has proven to be our strongest preservation law, providing substantive and responsible protection for our nation’s historic sites. Conversely, section 1303 of the MAP-21 Reauthorization Act, as currently drafted, would replace the commitment Congress has made to avoiding harm to our historic resources with a set of bureaucratic procedures that would leave America’s heritage at risk.
“With our partners, we look forward to working with the Committee to modify the bill’s language to ensure the nation’s transportation needs are met without needlessly jeopardizing our nation’s historic resources.”
BACKGROUND ON SECTION 4(f)
Under section 4(f), the Secretary of Transportation is prohibited from approving any project that would “use” historic resources unless there is “no feasible and prudent alternative” to doing so. Furthermore, in cases where such harm is unavoidable, section 4(f) requires “all possible planning to minimize harm." This substantive mandate has been an essential safeguard in protecting the nation’s historic resources since its inclusion in the original Department of Transportation Act of 1966.