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Historic Properties

Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act


Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) requires that Federal agencies consider the effects of their projects on historic properties. Historic properties are any prehistoric or historic district, site, building, structure, or object included in, or eligible for, inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Union Station is listed in the NRHP, and there are numerous other historic properties surrounding the Station.

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation’s (ACHP) Section 106 implementing regulations in 36 CFR Part 800  ( define a four-step decision-making process for compliance with Section 106:

  1. Initiate consultation;
  2. Identify properties that may be affected by the project, and determine if the property or properties are historic as determined by eligibility or listing in the NRHP;
  3. Assess the effects of the undertaking on historic properties; and
  4. Resolve adverse effects on historic properties by developing and evaluating alternatives that could avoid, minimize, or mitigate those effects. 

Consulting Parties in the Section 106 process include the lead Federal agency, the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), ACHP, grantees, representatives of local governments, and organizations, businesses, and members of the general public who have an economic, social, or cultural interest in the project.

Section 106 Review for the Washington Union Station Expansion Project

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) initiated Section 106 consultation with the District of Columbia SHPO for the Washington Union Station Expansion Project (Project) in November 2015. FRA then worked with the SHPO to identify consulting parties, who were formally invited to participate in the Section 106 consultation process in March 2016.

The Section 106 process is coordinated with the development of the Project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In addition to meeting with consulting parties, FRA provides information at public meetings held throughout the NEPA process about the Project’s potential to affect historic properties.

Assessment of Effects

In June 2020, FRA issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Draft Assessment of Effects Report (AOE), which evaluated impacts and assessed effects to historic properties from six Action Alternatives as well as a No-Action Alternative. Consulting Party and other stakeholder comments on the Action Alternatives prompted FRA and the Project Proponents to refine the Project element design. For over a year and a half, FRA and the Project Proponents worked with key stakeholders, including Consulting Parties, to develop a new alternative (Alternative F) that substantially addressed the comments received.

FRA identified Alternative F as the Preferred Alternative in July 2022. In contrast to the 2020 Action Alternatives, the Preferred Alternative avoids and/or minimizes effects to many historic properties. FRA finalized a Supplemental Assessment of Effects Report (SAOE) in 2023 that analyzes the effects of the Preferred Alternative (Alternative F). In March 2023, FRA determined that the Preferred Alternative would have an adverse effect to historic properties.

Draft Programmatic Agreement

FRA is proposing to execute a Programmatic Agreement (PA) that establishes a process to resolve the known adverse effects of the Project on historic properties in accordance with 36 C.F.R. § 800.14. 

The Draft PA was available for public and Consulting Party review along with the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) through July 6, 2023.

Section 106 Consultation Materials

This website will be updated with relevant materials as the Section 106 process moves forward.