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Section 5: Historic Bridge Marketing

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General Discussion

Federally funded projects that propose to demolish a historic bridge are required to make the historic bridge available for donation to a state, locality, or responsible private entity as long as the state, locality, or responsible private entity enters into an agreement to maintain and assume responsibility for the historic bridge (see 23 USC 144 (g)).

TxDOT refers to this requirement as bridge marketing. Marketing can involve face-to-face discussions on proposed new uses for a historic bridge as well as formal notifications that TxDOT is searching for a responsible owner. Informal marketing includes discussion with the historic bridge owner, local entities, or other interested and responsible parties. The requirement for marketing is satisfied when a responsible owner for the historic bridge has been identified, or when TxDOT has made a reasonable effort to identify a new owner.

The statewide list of interested parties may be utilized to assist in finding a responsible owner for the historic bridge, if needed. Formal marketing, when required, should include notifications in media outlets such as newspapers and TxDOT’s Internet site. Bridges should be marketed for as long as possible, while balancing the need to allow for SHPO and public comment on alternatives or a Section 106 outcome.

Experience indicates that short to medium span metal trusses typically make realistic candidates for relocation. If a historic bridge has neither the potential for preservation in place nor potential for relocation for an adaptive use, formal marketing can be limited to 30 days to be in compliance with Title 23 USC Section 144.

The marketing of historic bridges to a responsible party is applied to both non-truss and truss bridges and can only take place after ENV has reviewed a preliminary draft of the Section 4(f) document. Informal conversations with potential recipients are considered to be efforts to "minimize harm." These conversations can be conducted in an effort to perform "all possible planning" under both Section 106 and Section 4(f). It should be noted that no agreements, whether written or oral, can be made prior to ENV's approval to begin formal marketing.

Marketing plans are to be prepared by the DIST EC/ES and submitted to ENV HIST for review and approval.

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Marketing Non-Moveable or Large Bridges

Not all historic bridges are suitable for adaptive uses; however, there are no mechanisms in the federal regulations allowing agencies, such as TxDOT, to forego marketing. Items that would make a historic bridge unsuitable for adaptive uses may include:

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  • diminished structural condition of the historic bridge;
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  • physical impossibility of dismantling or moving all or some of the historic bridge, such as concrete arches or other large concrete bridge types;
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  • excessive costs associated with dismantling or moving all or some of the historic bridges, such as long span steel plate girders.

TxDOT recognizes these limitations and has developed a streamlined approach to marketing these types of bridges. The following steps are required for marketing large or non-moveable bridge:

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  • ENV HIST is required to review and approve the preliminary draft of the Section 4(f) document;
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  • ENV HIST is required to review and accept the Bridge Marketing proposal submitted by the District;
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  • ENV HIST will post the appropriate marketing documentation on TxDOT’s website for 30 days; and
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  • District EC/ES will notify the THC, Historic Bridge Foundation, and the County Historical Commission chair of the availability of the bridge.
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Marketing Historic Truss Bridges and Post-1945 Bridges Designated as Group A

Historic truss bridges, when found to be suitable for adaptive use, are more likely to be relocated. Finding a location for the bridge that is in the same county or geographical region is recommended and preferred. Other bridges, such as those designated as Group A Bridges as part of the Post-1945 Concrete and Steel Bridges inventory, may warrant a similar level of marketing. Consultation with the SHPO and other consulting parties should identify these significant bridges. Conduct preliminary marketing efforts with the current owner and other local officials before contacting and coordinating with other potential recipients. District Area Office engineers and ENV HIST are able to assist in these efforts.

If a responsible recipient is not found through these efforts, additional marketing of the historic bridge must take place. ENV-HIST has developed a bridge marketing plan which includes public notices, proof of publication, and other documents that will need to be included in the environmental documentation for the project. More information is available on TxDOT ENV’s website.

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