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Historic Bridges: A Future Determined Through Policy Presented By Nathan Holth.

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Presentation on theme: "Historic Bridges: A Future Determined Through Policy Presented By Nathan Holth."— Presentation transcript:

1 Historic Bridges: A Future Determined Through Policy Presented By Nathan Holth

2 Introduction: Historic Bridges? Built during a time when engineers showed a greater concern with beauty and appearance, these structures are also generally more intricate and pleasing to the eye than modern bridges. They provide beauty and interest to the surrounding area. These bridges are also historically important as links to the past. Unlike history recorded in books, these bridges are living history, and provide a clear picture of an important aspect of life in the past.

3 Introduction: Are There Many Around? Although they face demolition annually, and their population is rapidly declining, there are still thousands of historic bridges in the United States, most open to traffic, and some abandoned or closed. Historic bridges come in a wide variety of structure types.

4 Introduction: Historic Bridge Types Covered bridges may be the most well known, but there are other historic bridge types. Some of the other more common historic bridge types are shown above. TrussGirderArch

5 Introduction: Special Note This project focuses on bridges that fall under highway transportation policy. Railroad bridges such as these do not fall under the transportation policies discussed here.

6 Policy: What’s The Problem? The problem is quite simple. Historic bridges are being demolished rather than preserved.

7 Policy: What’s The Problem? With the bridges demolished, the community and people can no longer enjoy and reap any benefits that a historic bridge might provide.

8 Policy: On The Other Hand… The counter argument? There may be some people that enjoy the efficiency that a modern bridge might bring. Owners of bridges also like new bridges, because they may require less maintenance at the outset.

9 Policy: Preservation & Transportation: Two Policy Areas There are two separate areas of policy making that affect historic bridges. One being those dealing with transportation and the other being those dealing with historic preservation. For each however, the same problems are being addressed.

10 Preservation: Development and Implementation

11 Preservation: Policy Development: 1966 National Historic Preservation Act In 1965 the surge of development following World War II, had resulted in the demolition of countless historic structures. This had finally made it clear to many people that there was a problem in the United States. In 1966, Congress produced and passed the National Historic Preservation Act, providing preservation funding to help states conduct surveys of historic structures, list them on the National Register of Historic Places, and preserve them.

12 Preservation: Implementation Issues: Executive Order for Eligibility Originally, in order to qualify for preservation assistance, a structure had to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Due to the number of historic properties, this turned out to be a never-ending process. President Nixon produced Executive Order in 1971, which declared that historic structures determined to be simply eligible for the National Register of Historic Places would qualify for funding.

13 Preservation: Implementation: Sec. 106 There is a key element from the National Historic Preservation Act that affects historic bridges, allowing historic preservation policy to interfere with bridge replacement programs. This involvement appears in the form of what officials refer to as Section 106. It is part of the National Historic Preservation Program, and is essentially a protection for historic properties. It calls for the creation of “alternatives” to try to mitigate any adverse effects associated with modifying a historic property. However, the owner can select any of the alternatives. The goals of transportation officials are mainly safety and efficiency, and so they do not usually choose preservation. Mitigation usually is limited to documenting the structure through photos and research prior to demolition.

14 Transportation: Development and Implementation

15 Transportation: Policy Development The beginning of federal involvement with roads occurred in 1916 with the enactment of the First Federal Aid Road Act. Plans for an interstate highway system were passed in 1944, but Congress did not budget any money to the program until 1956 when it passed the Federal Aid to Highway/Interstate Highway Act. This 1956 act initiated the Interstate system that is present in the country today. In 1966 the Department of Transportation was created to implement the policies. In 1987 the Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act established a Historic Bridge Program Federal Aid Road Act, 1956 Interstate Highway Act, 1987 Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act

16 Transportation: Policy Development In 1991, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act brought an increased role for local and state governments in transportation. Also noteworthy was the increase in funding for alternative transportation, which generally refers to non-motorized transportation facilities like bike paths. Bike paths and other trails present possible opportunities for outdated historic bridges to be relocated where they can easily support the lighter weight of pedestrians. In addition, this act expanded bridge funding to include aid for bridge painting, an important maintenance aspect for iron and steel bridges like metal truss bridges Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act: Historic Bridge Program and Bridge Paint Funding

17 Transportation: Historic Bridge Implementation: Covered Bridges Today there are a couple specific transportation policies regarding historic bridges. One policy, although of limited scope, that is important to consider is the National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation Program. This program has been around for many years, but was recently continued in This apparently suggested that Congress was pleased with the evaluation of the covered bridge policy. Although the passing of the Historic Covered Bridge Preservation Program may sound like Congress sees historic bridge preservation as an important issue, this is not necessarily the case. This program will not provide a cent of money to any historic bridge that does not fall under the narrowly defined structure type of wooden covered bridge.

18 Transportation: Historic Bridge Implementation: Other Historic Bridges Historic bridge types beyond wooden covered bridges are eligible for some limited assistance. The United States Code outlines a lightweight Historic Bridge Program that covers any bridge eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. States are first required to identify all bridges that are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places through a historic bridge inventory, so that bridges eligible for aid are identified. At this point, the reactive program operates on a demolition and third party focus. When a historic bridge is slated for demolition, then this program kicks in.

19 Transportation: Historic Bridge Implementation: Marketing Plans The owner of the bridge is required to offer the bridge to another owner, perhaps a different state, or a city, or a private citizen or group to take ownership of and preserve the bridge. These may be done through marketing plans. The above 1870s bridge, a special type of bridge called a bowstring, is offered in Pennsylvania. For anyone who assumes ownership, the program essentially provides money up to the cost of demolition to preserve a bridge. If no one takes the bridge, it can be legally demolished.

20 Transportation: Historic Bridge Implementation: Sec 106 Invoked During these demolition plans, it is also at this time that the Section 106 process is invoked, and the alternatives to harming the historic structure must be considered, and if demolition is selected, some sort of mitigation must take place. Often, mitigation for demolition is fulfilled by simply photo-documenting the structure, as happened with the Genesee Road Bridge in Lapeer County, MI shown above.

21 Transportation: Historic Bridge Implementation: Local Bridge Program Loophole However, there is a loophole to this that some states, either purposely or inadvertently, have taken advantage of. Michigan chose to change its bridge replacement grants that it provides to local governments so that no federal funds were used. Because this essentially excludes federal involvement from the program, Section 106 no longer applies.

22 Transportation: Historic Bridge Implementation Alternatively, someone trying to preserve a bridge can also compete for Transportation Enhancement Funds, which are grants that can be used to preserve a bridge. However, there is a catch, if the demolition cost grant is accepted, then that bridge is ineligible to compete for a Transportation Enhancement grant, and vice versa.

23 Transportation: Actors

24 Transportation: Actors: Congress Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Highways, Transit and Pipelines Subcommittee Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Subcommittee Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Subcommittee listed Senator Conrad Burns, a Republican from Montana on its 109 th Congress list. In 1992, Burns was a major player in stopping a proposal that would have allowed projects to relocate historic bridges off a road onto an alternative transportation system such as a bike path or sidewalk for preservation to receive federal funding. As a result, a compromise provided the more limited historic bridge provisions present in transportation laws today Committee on Environment and Public Works House of Representatives Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee

25 Transportation: Actors: Agencies The agencies regarding transportation policy are a chain-of-command type of situation. The Federal Highway Administration implements the policies, and the various state Departments of Transportation work with FHWA money and requirements set up by FHWA to construct and repair roads and bridges. DOTs may then in turn hand money down to counties and municipalities through their own programs.

26 Transportation: Actors: Interest Group This powerful interest group’s membership is restricted to officials of the various state transportation departments, limiting the voice of the citizenry in the policy process. The goal of this interest group is to promote the interests of the state level departments of transportation. As such, their interests would tend to be the promotion of increased grants with little regulation as to how that money will be spent. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

27 Transportation: Actors: Others A few interest groups are more standard, are open to the public, and represent the issues of the public. A noteworthy example is the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership. Their issues however do not mention historic preservation, and are more focused on economic, social, and environmental issues. There appear to be very few well-known think tanks operating. There is one group however, known as the Mineta Transportation Institute. This group appears to be mainly devoted to providing research for policies. Interest Group: Surface Transportation Policy Partnership Think Tank: Mineta Transportation Institute

28 Preservation: Actors

29 Preservation: Actors: Agencies There is a special agency that deals with historic preservation policy implementation, the Department of the Interior. This department in turn hands preservation implementation responsibility to the director of the National Park Service. The idea that the National Park Service handles preservation might come as a surprise. In addition, as mentioned earlier, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation also deals with historic preservation policy.

30 Preservation: Actors: Agencies: SHPO Additional actors in the implementation process are the state level’s State Historic Preservation Officers They may review a bridge and determine whether it is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. If a bridge is found to be eligible, than Section 106 will be required, and the bridge is also then eligible for preservation grants like Transportation Enhancement.

31 Preservation: Actors: Congress Committee on Resources National Parks Subcommittee Committee on Energy and Natural Resources National Parks Subcommittee No congressional committees or subcommittees exclusively deal with historic preservation. Instead, committees that deal with the National Park Service are the actors in historic preservation policy. House of Representatives Senate

32 Preservation: Actors: Interest Groups There are many interest groups devoted to historic preservation, although most are not specifically lobbying for historic bridges. Perhaps the most noteworthy interest group is the National Trust For Historic Preservation. Transportation is listed among their concerns. The SRI Foundation is an important group that published a study on historic bridge policy and has made many recommendations that would increase their funding. The Society for Industrial Archaeology is a good example of one of several smaller, more grassroots oriented groups that support historic preservation policies, that also claims membership of a number of historic bridge preservationists.

33 Conclusions

34 Conclusion: Citizen’s Role & Awareness The voice of the average citizen in historic bridge policy development is limited, but it is not silent. The voice of the citizen rests in the ability to raise awareness and concern. A major problem with historic bridges is a lack of awareness in regards to the important of historic bridges, as well as the threat of demolition frequently carried out through current transportation policy.

35 Conclusion: Citizen’s Role: Websites A significant way to raise awareness is through websites. In recent years, a number of historic bridge websites have been created that feature photos and information about historic bridges. These can be an effective way to raise public awareness about the variety of historic bridges, and the risks they currently face. Other Websites okbridges.wkinsler.com

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