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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

November 9, 2012 Memorandum


U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Transit Administration

Subject: FTA Use of the FHWA Section 4(f) Policy Paper
Date: Nov 9, 2012
From: Lucy Garliauskas, Associate Administrator for Planning and Environment
To: FTA Regional Administrators

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved revision to its Section 4(f) Policy Paper (available at in July of 2012. Section 4(f), now codified in 49 U.S.C § 303, is the law that contains protection for public parks, recreation areas, wildlife and waterfowl refuges, and historic sites. Although the Section 4(f) implementing regulation at 23 CFR Part 774 (available at is a joint FHWA-FTA regulation, FHWA’s Section 4(f) Policy Paper is officially an FHWA-only endeavor. Because of this, the Section 4(f) Policy Paper reflects what FHWA has learned over the years in implementing Section 4(f) for its programs. Although the examples used to illustrate the Section 4(f) policies presented in the paper tend to involve highway projects, equivalent Section 4(f) issues can easily be imagined for transit projects, and the policy presented in the highway example can usually be applied. Moreover, FTA commented on several drafts of the paper during its development, and FTA comments are generally reflected in the paper’s final version.

FTA recommends that the July 2012 FHWA Section 4(f) Policy Paper be used as FTA guidance on Section 4(f) matters, and the policies and procedures described in the paper be followed by FTA Regional Offices and grant applicants to the extent they apply to projects proposed for FTA funding. Accordingly, please mention the availability of the FHWA Section 4(f) Policy Paper to grant applicants when Section 4(f) issues arise on a project.

In addition, please note that FHWA incorporated the substance of the joint FHWA-FTA “Guidance of Determining De Minimis Impacts to Section 4(f) Resources” (December 2005) into the revised Section 4(f) Policy Paper and declared the 2005 guidance to be superseded by the 2012 paper. In the same way, FTA regional offices should look to the Section 4(f) regulation and the July 2012 FHWA Section 4(f) Policy Paper for guidance on implementing the de minimis provision of Section 4(f).

If you have any policy questions on Section 4(f) implementation not answered by the regulations and the guidance contained in the FHWA Section 4(f) Policy Paper, please contact one of the Section 4(f) subject matter experts in TPE, Elizabeth Patel or Megan Blum, for assistance. You can view the entire list of subject matter experts in the Office of Human and Natural Environment at

Last updated: Tuesday, December 15, 2015