James K. Polk Building, Suite 900
505 Deaderick St.
Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0334
Historic Preservation Section Manager
Historic preservation laws require TDOT to assess the impacts of projects with state and federal funding on historic properties. Regulations define "historic" as any property either listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). NRHP is a federal program, administered by the National Park Service, that recognizes historic properties. It includes a variety of resources such as houses, commercial or industrial buildings, districts, objects, and even roads and bridges. Typically properties eligible for the National Register are at least 50 years old, possess architectural and/or historic significance, and retain their integrity (i.e., largely unaltered since their historic period).
For every TDOT project, from an intersection improvement to a newly constructed road, TDOT Historic Preservation staff surveys the project area to identify properties listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register.
Projects that are federally funded, licensed, or permitted require TDOT to comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended. In order to comply with Section 106, TDOT historians assess the effects projects have on historic properties. The vast majority of projects (approximately 98%) do not affect historic resources. The law requires that the agency provide the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation with the opportunity to review and comment on projects that adversely affect historic properties. When effects cannot be avoided, TDOT implements measures to minimize or mitigate those impacts. TDOT works with the Tennessee State Historic Preservation Office and interested parties to determine the best way to minimize and mitigate adverse effects.
Section 4(f) of the U.S. Department of Transportation Act of 1966 prohibits the Secretary of Transportation from approving any project that requires the “use” of a historic property unless there is no prudent and feasible alternative to that use and unless the project includes all possible planning to minimize harm to the historic resource. As a result of this stringent law, TDOT places great emphasis on shifting project alignments to avoid the “use” of any historic property. This includes right-of-way and permanent easements. Visit www.fhwa.dot.gov for additional information.
Public Law 699
Enacted in 1988, Tennessee Public Law 699 requires TDOT to provide the Tennessee Historical Commission the opportunity to review and comment on any project that might demolish or alter an historic property. In addition, it requires that all state agencies consult with the Tennessee Historical Commission prior to transferring ownership of any property out of state ownership. In order to consistently identify and preserve historic resources, TDOT historians generally apply the same reporting standards to historic properties as they would for federal projects under Section 106.
TDOT historians work extensively to identify, survey, and preserve historic bridges throughout the state. Learn more about TDOT’s Historic Bridge Program.
Historic Preservation Manager
TDOT Environmental Studies Supervisor - Historian
Region 2 (Cumberland Plateau)
Laura van Opstal
TDOT Environmental Studies Specialist AD - Historian
Regions 3 & 4 (Middle TN & West TN)