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Historic Properties

Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act

Section 106 Overview

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). Washington Union Station (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’s effects on historic properties.

For additional information on the Section 106 process, see the ACHP website.

Summary of Section 106 Process for the Washington Union Station Expansion Project (Project)

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) initiated Section 106 consultation for the Project with the District of Columbia State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in a letter dated November 23, 2015. During the Section 106 process, FRA hosted 15 meetings with the Consulting Parties. Materials presented at these meetings are available at the following links:

Along with the 2020 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), FRA issued a Draft Assessment of Effect (AOE) (Appendix D1 of the DEIS) that assessed the effects of the six DEIS Action Alternatives on 49 architectural historic properties and six culturally significant viewsheds.  

Following public and agency review of the 2020 DEIS and Draft AOE, FRA paused the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Section 106 process for the Project from October 5, 2020, through July 11, 2022. During the pause, FRA and the Project Proponents – Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC) and Amtrak – worked with key stakeholders, including Consulting Parties, to develop a new alternative (Alternative F) that substantially addressed the comments received to avoid and/or minimize effects to many historic properties. In 2023, FRA finalized a Supplemental AOE (SAOE) that analyzed the effects of the Preferred Alternative (Alternative F). The SAOE was published as Appendix D1S of the Supplemental DEIS.

On March 10, 2023, in accordance with 36 CFR § 800.5, FRA determined that the Preferred Alternative (Alternative F) would have an adverse effect on the following historic properties:

  • Washington Union Station
  • Washington Union Station Historic Site
  • Railway Express Agency (REA) Building

Construction of the Preferred Alternative (Alternative F) also has the potential to have an adverse effect on the City Post Office (Postal Museum). 

To resolve these adverse effects, FRA developed a Programmatic Agreement (PA) among FRA, SHPO, ACHP, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC), and Amtrak (PA Signatories) that defines conditions and stipulations to mitigate, minimize, or avoid the Preferred Alternative’s adverse effects on historic properties. 

FRA made the draft PA available for public and Consulting Party review along with the SDEIS from May 12 through July 6, 2023. After considering the comments received and consulting with the PA Signatories and Consulting Parties, FRA executed the final PA on February 26, 2024.