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Cultural Resources

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Environmental Services

Bardwell's Ferry Bridge in Conway/ShelburneThe Cultural Resources Unit is responsible for reviewing MassDOT Highway projects and filing appropriate documentation to ensure that all projects comply with the applicable federal and state historic preservation laws and regulations.

The Cultural Resources Unit's review of MassDOT Highway projects is generally conducted either under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (if federally funded or permitted) or M.G.L. Chapter 9, Section 26-27C, as amended by Chapter 254 of the Acts of 1988 (if state funded). In 2004, MassDOT Highway Division (then MassHighway) entered into a programmatic agreement with the Massachusetts State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation that allows a streamlined Section 106 review for minor highway projects with federal funding.

The Cultural Resources Unit's responsibilities include:
  • Ensuring that early coordination with the appropriate local historical commissions and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers is conducted;
  • Maintaining and expanding the Massachusetts Historic Bridge Inventory;
  • Performing or directing documentary research and architectural and archaeological field surveys, evaluating the historical/archaeological significance of all properties within a proposed project impact area, and reviewing project plans to identify and evaluate the project's effect on historically significant properties;
  • Coordinating and consulting with the FHWA, the SHPO/Massachusetts Historical Commission, local historical commissions, Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, other federal and state agencies, and interested parties regarding impacts on historic properties;
  • Seeking alternatives to minimize or mitigate impacts to historic properties (for example, MassDOT Highway's Adaptive Reuse of Bridges);
  • Preparing and filing clearance documentation with the appropriate regulatory authority; and
  • Providing assistance to state and federal agencies (for example, the Cultural Resources Unit evaluated the National Register-eligibility of the Interstate Highway System within Massachusetts for the Federal Highway Administration).

In addition, the Cultural Resources Unit maintains a growing collection of archaeological reports and transportation-related historic photographs.

Resources

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