State departments of transportation streamlining Section 106 Review

Posted in: Bridges, Cultural Resources, Highways


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Chad Moffett delivering workshop on assessing effects on historic bridges to Caltrans staff in October 2015.

Long an innovator in delivering transportation solutions, the California Department of Transportation provides numerous resources to streamline review under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

Three examples highlight Caltrans efforts to provide:

Mechanisms to promote preservation

Action plans to avoid adverse effects by adhering to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties along with relevant National Park Service technical guidance provides streamlined review according to the requirements in the Caltrans Programmatic Agreement. This process is unique as it does not require review by the State Historic Preservation Officer. An action plan defines roles and responsibilities of the parties involved, spells out how specific work will be undertaken to meet the Standards and/or technical guidance, and when work will be reviewed for compliance.

More predictable project review for historic bridges and tunnels

In Exhibit 7.4, Historic Bridges and Tunnels No Adverse Effects with Standard Conditions Caltrans identified common bridge and tunnel rehabilitation activities and acceptable treatments that may result in a no adverse effect according to the requirements in the PA. Activities and treatments are organized by bridge component, material and structure type, and are incorporated into Caltrans’ Standard Environmental Reference on Cultural Resources. This process also does not require review by the State Historic Preservation Officer – again saving time.

Access to resources online

In addition to the guidance above, Caltrans hosts a “Historic Bridges and Tunnels” webpage to serve as a portal for Caltrans staff, engineers and cultural resources specialists. The portal provides its historic bridge inventories and database with photographs and information to assist with understanding the historic significance of structures listed or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Recent additions include a 2015 update to the Caltrans historic bridge inventory for the period from 1965 through 1974. The update provides a context on two new bridge types in California – the steel box girder and the segmental concrete box girder.

These models show successful ways that DOTs comply with the NRHP and other environmental regulations – often in unique and innovative ways.


Chad Moffett

About the Author

Chad Moffett enjoys different types of historic preservation projects and helping our clients. “Every place has a unique and interesting history. Discovering and understanding these stories and how history affected the built environment is an exciting challenge,” he says. Chad specializes in developing balanced solutions that meet client needs while respecting historic resources for future generations.

Read more posts by Chad Moffett

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