What is scoping?
Once a project is programmed on the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP), PennDOT scopes the project for its potential environmental impacts, including historic resources. With the exception of very minor projects, PennDOT Cultural Resource Professionals (CRPs) participate in the scoping to assess the project's potential effect on historic resources.
At the scoping, PennDOT CRP completes the following tasks:
- define the Area of Potential Effect (APE)
- identify potentially eligible historic properties
- determine the potential for archaeological sites
- make recommendations on whether additional cultural resources studies are required
After the scoping, the CRP may choose from one of three possible options:
- exempt the project from further section 106 review because the project does not have the potential to affect historic resources
- make a finding of No Historic Properties Affected
- complete the Project Early Notification/Scoping Results Form
The form summarizes:
- the findings from the scoping field view
- the presence of known or potentially eligible cultural resources
- the need for additional studies
- the anticipated level of public involvement based on the project scope and its potential effects
The PennDOT CRP submits the form to the State Historic Preservation Office (in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission) and posts the information online at ProjectPATH. If the PennDOT CRP identifies known or potentially eligible historic resources in the Area of Potential Effect, PennDOT initiates section 106 and solicits for potential consulting parties.
Determine the Area of Potential Effect (APE)
What is the APE?
The regulations define the APE as the "geographic area or areas within which an undertaking may directly or indirectly cause alterations in the character or use of historic properties… The area of potential effects is influenced by the scale and nature of the undertaking and may be different for different kind of effects caused by the undertaking." 36 CFR 800.16 (d)
PennDOT is responsible for determining the Area of Potential Effect. This determination may be made in consultation with the SHPO or THPO. After the APE is defined, PennDOT reviews existing information to locate previously identified historic properties or sites in the APE.
In Pennsylvania, PennDOT reviews the following background resources:
- Cultural Resources Geographic Information System
- Pennsylvania Historic Resource Survey Forms and National Register files
- Historic Maps
- Local Historical Societies or Libraries
- State Archives
- Historic Bridge Inventory (www.penndotcrm.org)
This research allows PennDOT to identify previously recorded and evaluated resources and assess any existing information needs.
Identify Historic Properties within the APE
PennDOT is responsible for identifying historic properties and archeological sites in the Area of Potential Effect. A historic property is defined as “any prehistoric or historic district, site, building, structure, or object included in, or eligible for inclusion in, the National Register of Historic Places maintained by the Secretary of the Interior.” 36 CFR 800.16 (l)(1)
PennDOT is required to make “a reasonable and good faith effort” to identify historic properties and sites.
What is “a reasonable and good faith effort”?
The identification efforts should take into account “the magnitude and nature of the undertaking and the degree of Federal involvement, the nature and extent of potential effects on historic properties, and the likely nature and location of historic properties within the area of potential effects.” 36 CFR 800.4(b)(1)