REQUEST FOR PUBLIC COMMENT
Section 4(f) of the US Department of Transportation Act
de minimis Finding
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad (UGRR) Scenic Byway

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

Dorchester County is considering improvements to the Harriett Tubman UGRR Scenic Byway in Dorchester and Caroline Counties. The purpose of the project is to improve and update the visitor infrastructure along the Byway and to provide a more complete and up to date experience as well as to reach additional audiences resulting in increased visitation. This project includes designing, fabricating and installing 9 new markers and replacing 16 existing byway markers along the Harriet Tubman Byway. Two of the interpretive signs that will be installed are located at the Harriet Tubman UGRR State Park, one sign will be installed at the Church Creek Town Park and one sign will be installed at Crouse Park. Each sign will impact two square feet of their prospective Park. The Harriet Tubman UGRR State Park is owned and managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Town Park is owned and managed by the Town of Church Creek and Crouse Park is owned and managed by the Town of Denton. Each Park is protected under Section 4(f) of the US Department of Transportation Act.

Questions and Answers about the Project

Why is this work necessary and what improvements are proposed?

The Harriet Tubman UGRR Scenic Byway is a self-guided driving tour through 125 miles of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It includes historically significant sites related to the Underground Railroad. Improvements to the Byway will enhance the experience for visitors to Dorchester and Caroline Counties, promote tourism and will replace deteriorating signage along the Byway.

Why are comments being requested?

23 CFR 774.5(b) of Section 4(f) allows the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to determine that certain transportation uses of Section 4(f) land will have no adverse effect on the protected resource. With respect to publicly owned parks and recreation areas, a finding of de minimis impact may occur if a transportation project does not “adversely affect the activities, features and attributes” of the Section 4(f) resource. When this is the case, the finding of FHWA requires written concurrence from the officials with jurisdiction over the resource. In addition, public notice and the opportunity for public review and comment on the finding is required.

What are the impacts to protected Section 4(f) resources?

The improvements include impacts to four square feet of the Harriet Tubman UGRR State Park, two square feet of the Church Creek Town Park and two square feet of Crouse Park with the installation of signs. Dorchester County anticipates the signs remaining on Park property indefinitely and therefore considers the impacts permanent. Although the permanent use of land required from the parks is considered a “use” as defined under Section 4(f), there will be no negative impact on activities, features, and attributes that qualify the recreation area for protection under Section 4(f). Dorchester County, through this notice, is notifying the public that it will have the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) request that FHWA make a de minimis (or minor) impact finding, in accordance with Section 4(f). DNR, the Town of Church Creek and the Town of Denton are being informed of MDOT SHA’s intent to seek a Section 4(f) de minimis impact finding. With this notice, the public is afforded the opportunity to provide comments on this finding.

How do I comment?
Please contact Ms. Amanda Fenstermaker at amanda@visitdorchester.org or (410) 228-1000.