Section 4(f) Programmatic Agreements: What You Need to Know

If you work in the transportation industry or are involved in infrastructure projects, you may have heard of section 4(f) programmatic agreements. This section of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966 protects historic sites, parks, and wildlife refuges from being impacted by transportation projects.

A programmatic agreement is an agreement between federal and state agencies that outlines how they will comply with section 4(f) requirements. The agreement streamlines the review process for transportation projects that are likely to impact historic sites, parks, and wildlife refuges.

Here`s what you need to know about section 4(f) programmatic agreements:

What qualifies as a section 4(f) property?

Section 4(f) applies to properties listed or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, properties that are designated as historic under state or local law, and publicly owned parks, recreation areas, wildlife refuges, and other public lands.

When is a programmatic agreement required?

A programmatic agreement is required when a transportation project is likely to have an impact on a section 4(f) property. The agreement outlines how the project will avoid or minimize impacts on the property and how any adverse effects will be mitigated.

Benefits of programmatic agreements

Programmatic agreements provide several benefits for transportation projects. They streamline the review process and reduce the time and resources needed for compliance with section 4(f) requirements. They also provide consistency in how agencies approach compliance with section 4(f) and allow for a more collaborative approach to mitigation measures.

Challenges of programmatic agreements

One of the challenges of programmatic agreements is ensuring that they adequately address the potential impacts of transportation projects on section 4(f) properties. The agreement must outline specific measures that will be taken to avoid or minimize impacts and mitigate any adverse effects.

Another challenge is ensuring that the agreement is in compliance with federal and state laws. The agreement must be legally defensible and protect the interests of both the transportation agency and the public.


Section 4(f) programmatic agreements are a valuable tool for compliance with section 4(f) requirements for transportation projects. They provide benefits such as streamlining the review process and consistency in compliance. However, they also require careful consideration and collaboration to ensure that they adequately address the potential impacts of transportation projects on section 4(f) properties.