THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Transportation Research Board
Committee for a Review of U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Study
on Implementation of Changes to the Section 4(f) Process
Evaluating Implementation of Section 4(f) Streamlining Provisions:
Review of U.S. Department of Transportation's Draft Phase I Study Report and Phase II Draft Methodology
Legal rulings and regulations pursuant to Section 4(f) of U.S. Department of Transportation Act of 1966 set high standards for protecting parks, recreation areas, wildlife refuges, and historic properties from being adversely affected by transportation projects. P.L. 109-59, The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) requires the U.S. DOT to streamline the Section 4(f) evaluation process and to study the consequences of these regulatory changes. The U.S. DOT was granted authority to approve a project that results in a use of parkland or historic property that is so minor that it does not "adversely affect the activities, features, and attributes" of the Section 4(f) resource, referred to as a de minimis impact. In this second of three letter reports, a Transportation Research Board committee examines how the de minimis provision has been applied since it was enacted in August 2005. The report also evaluates the U.S. DOT’s draft study plan to evaluate implementation of the feasible and prudent avoidance alternative standard, which USDOT revised as required by Congress in SAFETEA-LU, as well as updating and extending the evaluation of the de minimis impact provision.
This briefing was for members of Congress and congressional staff only. The report was publicly released on April 7, 2009 and can be found, in its entirety, on the Transportation Research Board’s Web site.