What's New: Environmental Review


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  • We wanted to make you aware of changes within the Archaeology & Protection Division that will affect submissions to our office. This includes some new tools for carrying out consultation under the Section 106 or the State History Code. The purpose of all of these efforts is to expedite and streamline the environmental review process.
  • The boundaries delineating the review responsibilities of our archaeological staff have shifted slightly. There have been shifts in the workload due to the nature and types of projects being submitted to our office. The boundaries have been updated in order to more evenly distribute the number of reviews among our archaeological review staff and thereby expedite response time to review requests. A copy of this map is included in your information packet and is available on our website.
  • PHMC is in the process of developing statewide mapping of archaeological sensitivity in consultation with PennDOT. The mapping is being rolled out by physiographic regions and will begin with the southwestern portion of the state in the Pittsburgh Plateaus and Waynesburg Hills region. The end result of this effort will be the creation of sensitivity layers (for both high and moderate) that characterize the probability that  prehistoric archaeological sites are likely to be found in an area, based on environmental factors and relationships to known site location. Eventually this data will be integrated into CRGIS as a data layer that you will be able to access. This information will make applicants aware if their project is in an area that is highly sensitive for prehistoric archaeological sites and thereby assist in project planning. The mapping will also be added to Penn DOT’s Linking Planning and NEPA layers to help facilitate regional  transportation planning efforts.  Where we are in the process . . . Last year our office examined previously prepared predictive models and sensitivity studies for large projects throughout the state and selected the area for the initial model. We were able to determine from these previous studies what environmental data layers we would need to examine and what parameters (distance to water, slope, etc.) seemed to have been most useful in determining probable site locations.  We also looked at various software programs that are available to do the analysis.Penn DOT is in the process of securing funding to bring in someone with specialized expertise and experience to oversee and statistically test the GIS-based model.
  • Many of you may be familiar with our Request to Initiate Consultation Form. This contains the basic information we require to provide our written comments on a project’s potential to affect cultural resources. To expedite the time you spend preparing submissions to our office as well as our project review and response time, we have developed a new form.
  • The new form is different in a number of ways and is available on our website at the link provided in your handout. For the purposes of paper reduction, we have consolidated the form from two pages to one. For clarity, we have revised the name of the form to Project Review Form. To make the document more user friendly, the form is no longer provided in Word but rather an interactive pdf. This means that when you click on a field there is guidance as to what information should be included. There are also drop down menus for some fields. As far as content goes, essentially we are still asking for the same information, but in a different format. The important components of initial submissions to our office remain the same: the level of Federal or State involvement, a map identifying the project location, a description of the project, site plans or drawings of the work, and photographs keyed to a site map. Once you have completed the fields, you can print the document out, sign it and provide it to our office. Please note that the document is read only and it is not possible to save a completed copy to your computer. We have also included an option for our office to respond to a project and its potential to affect historic properties at the bottom of the form. If there are no substantive comments, we will respond to the review by checking a finding box and then signing the form. Or if there is a need for more information, that box may be checked and signed.  So if you receive a copy of a Project Review form back with a checked finding and the signature of a PHMC environmental reviewer at the bottom, please accept that as the official written response from our office.
  • Although it is our preference that information be provided to our office on our Project Review Form, sometimes project review information comes in the form of a cover letter with attachments. This is acceptable as long as all of the required information is provided. Similar to the new sign off boxes at the bottom of the Project Review Form, we have developed stamps with the most common project responses. These stamps include spaces for the signature of the reviewer and date of response.  This is an example of a project recently reviewed by our office where the submission was made in a letter format and the official response was in the form of a No Effect on Historic Properties stamp that was signed and dated by our environmental review staff. We also have stamps for Request for More Information and No Historic Properties in the Area of Potential Effect.
  • This initiative started as we, working with PHMC, began to see the degree of loss among the population of historic metal truss bridges.Approximate numbers—difficult to be precise but accurate current counts is something we hope to have as part of the project outcomes
  • *Contracted with GF through CO open-end who subcontracted with Transystems *Project team assembled which includes a CRP rep., PHMC reps (Cheryl Nagle and Barbara Frederick)., CO Bridge Rep., Highway Project Delivery Rep., The effort is built on methodologies Transystems has used successfully in other states such as Maine and OHWe are proposing an individual assessment model (vs. ranking system) based upon the AASHTO Guidelines for Historic Bridge Rehabilitation and Replacement (which AASHTO endorsed/published in 2007 and which our CR handbook uses as guidance for Rehab. Feasibility Analysis Reports. The methodology is outlined in the document “Protocol for Determining Preservation Potential”. It is built on the notion that a bridge must be made “adequate” (a term used in the AASHTO guidelines) for the transportation use. It is predicated on developing a defensible and reasonable purpose and need statement and implementing a balanced approach to the consideration of preservation and need.The protocol also attempts to balance consideration of safety and also cost.
  • The management plan effort involves applying the protocol for determining preservation potential to historic metal truss bridges in the plan. Insufficient funds to evaluate all historic metal truss bridges+No need to evaluate bridges already preserved/recently rehabilitated or major river crossings where rehabilitation will be thoroughly considered anyway due to cost of replacementAssessment priority will be built on two things—level of significance and whether or not a bridge is on the TYP. If on TYP but not too far along in 106 ideal for consideration—this is a linking and planning tool!Recognition that some bridges are more significant that others—Trans. developed a methodology for determining a hierarchy of significance. Highest level called “Exceptional”, middle “High” and lowest “average”. This hierarchy of significance is important in helping to prioritize bridges for evaluation but also for determining what can be done to the bridges, such as in a rehab., without affecting historic integrity. Each historic metal truss bridge has been ranked as having an average, high, or exceptional level of historic significance.—currently in internal review and then we’re going to reach consensus on rankings with PHMC. The protocol facilitates evaluation of bridges within populations of similar bridge types/designs within their appropriate specific national, state, or local contexts. PHMC has assisted us by working with our CRPS in assessing historic district potential for areas surrounding these bridges. These aren’t official DOEs but for planning purposes in knowing if a truss bridge would contribute to an historic district surrounding, or adjacent to, a truss bridge. This is factored into the significance assessment and also the approach for evaluating preservation/rehabilitation options.
  • *Started with District meetings to get a sense for how districts feel—would a management plan benefit them; type of plan that would benefit and also info. gathering on how districts consider truss bridges now in decision to rehab. vs. replace -consensus was there is need for management plan and agreement with approach proposed -several districts felt that it would only be successful with local bridges if there was a “carrot”-funding to encourage the rehab. choice for a bridge the project team feels could be rehabbed and meet needs.*District meetings also included field views with Transystems Historian and Transystems or Gannett Fleming Bridge Engineer +CRPs to begin gaining understanding of remaining population anticipation of significance ranking and assessment priorities. We saw many many bridges w 3 or 6 ton postings such as this Pratt Pony, one of several similar on Huntingdon Ck. in Luzerne Co. that feature Phoenix columns. Most of these are not on the TYP but are highly significant ,if not of exceptional significance.The "Phoenix Column" (patented by Samuel Reeves in 1862 during the Civil War), was a hollow cylinder composed of four, six, or eight wrought iron segments that were riveted together into a single column. The result was much lighter and stronger than the usual solid cast iron columns of the day[8] and advanced the ability to build massive structures without the usual brutally heavy load bearing walls. Taller and taller buildings could now be built on narrow urban plots, helping facilitate the creation of the skyscraper and high stress load bearing bridges.Phoenix Iron Works/ Iron Company
  • The field views clearly illustrated the biggest problem (that all bridge engineers are aware of)—inadequately maintained locally owned bridges. Most of the historic trusses, particularly the highly significant ones, are locally owned.We saw many bridges hanging on at 3 tons., many of which end up in a cycle of open, closed, minor repairs to bring back to 3 ton min., This one in Berks county was recently closed following inspection. (Wiley’s Br. on Bower’s Rd.) Clear problem with lack of cleaning, esp. connections and bearings, which would help with longevity. Several districts mentioned the difficulty with funds for cleaning but also associated DEP permitting. We are realizing that a successful management plan may need to come with a maintenance set-aside for local bridges determined to be preservable (and meet needs).
  • In some cases, as with Messerall Rd. Bridge in Beaver Co., need for reopening is not clear—with clear alternatives in the roadway network, and if a bridge could only be rehabilitated to 6 or 9 tons without affecting its integrity, the question becomes is the need great enough to justify the rehab. for this limited capacity?; demolition is not a priority either so many just sit barricaded indefinitely. So, the individual assessments and how need is defined is going to be key. The assessments will also help establish what is controlling the rating, and how easily the bridge could be reopened (repair needs analysis). When a bridge is not going to be reopened we’re going to work with PHMC, and other partners to hopefully find off-system uses.
  • We are also going to look at “abandoned” bridges, including former road/highway bridges (to the degree we’re aware of them—some are in BMS, some aren’t) Why?: 1) they may affect significance level of on-system bridges; 2) there may be opportunities—even better opportunities given that timing is not an issue-for preservation. Preservation of any truss helps with PHMC and CP coordination in terms of sentiment that trusses are being preserved. Many on-system, but highly significant bridges, will be better candidates for off-system adaptive reuse than for rehab. for continuing vehicular use. We want to have a good inventory of bridges available for/better suited for reuse so that we can market them early. AGAIN—Anticipate a partnership with PHMC and locals to find adaptive reuses.
  • Management Plan document in internal review—to be shared with task force team, including PHMC next.
  • PHMC has been helpful in conducting historic district assessments
  • In 2011 an agreement was signed between PennDOT and PHMC to provide funding to PHMC to support a joint initiative to identify potential National Register areas of significance for local bridges in Chester and Bucks counties under Criterion A of the National Register of Historic Places Criteria for Evaluation. The joint initiative will also establish guidelines and standards for documenting significance and will identify potential contexts for evaluation. The funds provided to PHMC will also be used for public outreach efforts to elicit local opinions about important transportation resources and to identify local sources of information to support National Register evaluations; PennDOT is also providing additional funds to support a consultant who is conducting primary research and help draft the guidelinesIntent of this initiative is to use these 2 counties as a starting point for a statewide reevaluation of historic bridges (once funding can be established) using established criteria. Initiative comes out of a task force that included representatives from local historic preservation groups who expressed concerns with the 2001 statewide historic bridge inventory in terms of consideration given to local significance for bridges
  • Copies of the 2 protocols, sample assessments, district meeting minutes and other pertinent info. on the management plan effort can be found on the P drive. We are asking Environ. Managers and staff to look at the protocols, and esp. the sample assessments and let us know if they would be useful or of any suggested changes/improvements.
  • What's New: Environmental Review

    1. 1. What’s New:Environmental Review July 2012 Bureau for Historic Preservation
    2. 2. Environmental Review Regions: Archaeology Bureau for Historic Preservation
    3. 3. Statewide Archaeological Sensitivity Mapping Bureau for Historic Preservation
    4. 4. Old: Request to Initiate Consultation Form VOID Bureau for Historic Preservation
    5. 5. New: Project Review Form Available on PHMC-BHP website (see handout) Bureau for Historic Preservation
    6. 6. New: ER Response Stamps Bureau for Historic Preservation
    7. 7. PennDOT Management Plan for Historic Metal Truss Bridges Kris Lammi Thompson PennDOT Cultural Resources Specialist, Districts 4-0 & 5-0
    8. 8. Historic Metal Truss Bridge Management Plan• Historic Metal Truss Bridges-rapidly diminishing resource• Bridge Inventory (2001): – 863 total trusses – 303 eligible/listed• Population today: – 601 total trusses (in BMS) – Loss of 262 (30%) – 47 eligible/listed lost (16%)
    9. 9. Historic Metal Truss Bridge Management Plan Gannett Fleming/Transystems Project Team-PennDOT Central Office, District CRP, FHWA, PHMC, PennDOT Bridge & Highway Units Protocol for Determining Preservation Potential
    10. 10. Historic Metal Truss Bridge Management Plan Determining which Bridges to Assess:  Protocol for Defining Levels of Significance  Historic Trusses on TYP  Historic Districts
    11. 11. Met with PennDOT Districts What is the incentive for local bridge owners to rehabilitate a historic bridge?
    12. 12. Met with PennDOT Districts Fiscal and technical assistance for counties and municipalities?
    13. 13. Alternate Uses? An off-system answer?
    14. 14. Abandoned Bridges… Adaptive reuses?
    15. 15. Historic Metal Truss Bridge Management Plan• Management Plan Document- Draft in July – White Paper • Purpose/Objective • Overview of Approach • National Context • Benefits • Effective Management Plan Practices – District Meeting Summaries
    16. 16. Historic Metal Truss Bridge Management Plan• Management Plan Document (Cont’d) – Summary and Results • Research Summary • Coordination • PHMC Historic District Assessments • Levels of Significance for Population • Prioritization for Individual Assessments • Implementation Plan
    17. 17. Historic Metal Truss Bridge Management Plan• Management Plan Document (Cont’d)• Appendix Items: – Protocol for Defining Levels of Significance – Protocol for Determining Preservation Potential – Database (outline) – District Summary Tables (truss lists)
    18. 18. Local Significance and Bridges • Interagency Funding/Cooperative Agreement • Bucks/Chester Counties • Guidelines • Potential Contexts • Public Outreach/data gathering
    19. 19. Local Significance and Bridges Completed or In Progress: • Public Meetings held Fall 2011 • Background Research Conducted • Context Development • Comparison with other states
    20. 20. Historic Metal Truss Bridge Management PlanQuestions?: Kara Russell: krussell@pa.gov or Kris Thompson: krthompson@pa.gov