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Historic Preservation and Transportation Agencies Find Common Ground to Safeguard America's Heritage

Washington, DC (February 5, 2004) - Capping a long battle to save Section 4(f), the strongest legislative protection for historic places, Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, today announced that an agreement had been reached between the Trust and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. With the help of Senator George V. Voinovich (R-OH) and the Ohio Department of Transportation, an amendment has been developed that would streamline preservation reviews of transportation projects while continuing to protect historic places.

The 1966 Department of Transportation Act included Section 4(f) to require transportation officials to give paramount consideration to the protection of historic properties in planning their projects. This amendment would ensure that Section 4(f) works effectively to avoid potential harm to historic properties, while encouraging transportation officials and historic preservation agencies to work together to reduce bureaucratic paperwork for projects with truly minimal impacts on historic places. The amendment would not apply to transportation projects that adversely affect historic places and would leave fully intact the strong standards of protection for historic places that transportation law presently provides. The foundation for this agreement was laid in during a major transportation and historic preservation conference in Lexington, Kentucky in June of 2002.

Since becoming law in 1966 Section 4(f) has stopped plans for highways that would have severed the Mississippi riverfront from the historic French Quarter of New Orleans, devastated Overton Park in Memphis, Tennessee, and protected countless other historic places and neighborhoods from being bulldozed. The law enabled citizens in Baltimore to persuade officials to build a tunnel under Baltimore harbor instead of a massive bridge that would have loomed above Fort McHenry, birthplace of our national anthem, and destroyed thousands of homes in neighborhoods throughout the area.

2004 - Volume 35, Issue 2

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