23 CFR § 774.15 - Constructive use determinations.
(a) A constructive use occurs when the transportation project does not incorporate land from a Section 4(f) property, but the project's proximity impacts are so severe that the protected activities, features, or attributes that qualify the property for protection under Section 4(f) are substantially impaired. Substantial impairment occurs only when the protected activities, features, or attributes of the property are substantially diminished.
(c) The Administration shall determine when there is a constructive use, but the Administration is not required to document each determination that a project would not result in a constructive use of a nearby Section 4(f) property. However, such documentation may be prepared at the discretion of the Administration.
(d) When a constructive use determination is made, it will be based upon the following:
(1) Identification of the current activities, features, or attributes of the property which qualify for protection under Section 4(f) and which may be sensitive to proximity impacts;
(2) An analysis of the proximity impacts of the proposed project on the Section 4(f) property. If any of the proximity impacts will be mitigated, only the net impact need be considered in this analysis. The analysis should also describe and consider the impacts which could reasonably be expected if the proposed project were not implemented, since such impacts should not be attributed to the proposed project; and
(3) Consultation, on the foregoing identification and analysis, with the official(s) with jurisdiction over the Section 4(f) property.
(1) The projected noise level increase attributable to the project substantially interferes with the use and enjoyment of a noise-sensitive facility of a property protected by Section 4(f), such as:
(i) Hearing the performances at an outdoor amphitheater;
(ii) Sleeping in the sleeping area of a campground;
(iii) Enjoyment of a historic site where a quiet setting is a generally recognized feature or attribute of the site's significance;
(iv) Enjoyment of an urban park where serenity and quiet are significant attributes; or
(v) Viewing wildlife in an area of a wildlife and waterfowl refuge intended for such viewing.
(2) The proximity of the proposed project substantially impairs esthetic features or attributes of a property protected by Section 4(f), where such features or attributes are considered important contributing elements to the value of the property. Examples of substantial impairment to visual or esthetic qualities would be the location of a proposed transportation facility in such proximity that it obstructs or eliminates the primary views of an architecturally significant historical building, or substantially detracts from the setting of a Section 4(f) property which derives its value in substantial part due to its setting;
(3) The project results in a restriction of access which substantially diminishes the utility of a significant publicly owned park, recreation area, or a historic site;
(4) The vibration impact from construction or operation of the project substantially impairs the use of a Section 4(f) property, such as projected vibration levels that are great enough to physically damage a historic building or substantially diminish the utility of the building, unless the damage is repaired and fully restored consistent with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, i.e., the integrity of the contributing features must be returned to a condition which is substantially similar to that which existed prior to the project; or
(5) The ecological intrusion of the project substantially diminishes the value of wildlife habitat in a wildlife and waterfowl refuge adjacent to the project, substantially interferes with the access to a wildlife and waterfowl refuge when such access is necessary for established wildlife migration or critical life cycle processes, or substantially reduces the wildlife use of a wildlife and waterfowl refuge.
(1) Compliance with the requirements of 36 CFR 800.5 for proximity impacts of the proposed action, on a site listed on or eligible for the National Register, results in an agreement of “no historic properties affected” or “no adverse effect;”
(2) For projected noise levels:
(i) The impact of projected traffic noise levels of the proposed highway project on a noise-sensitive activity do not exceed the FHWA noise abatement criteria as contained in Table 1 in part 772 of this chapter; or
(ii) The projected operational noise levels of the proposed transit or railroad project do not exceed the noise impact criteria for a Section 4(f) activity in the FTA guidelines for transit noise and vibration impact assessment or the moderate impact criteria in the FRA guidelines for high-speed transportation noise and vibration impact assessment;
(3) The projected noise levels exceed the relevant threshold in paragraph (f)(2) of this section because of high existing noise, but the increase in the projected noise levels if the proposed project is constructed, when compared with the projected noise levels if the project is not built, is barely perceptible (3 dBA or less);
(4) There are proximity impacts to a Section 4(f) property, but a governmental agency's right-of-way acquisition or adoption of project location, or the Administration's approval of a final environmental document, established the location for the proposed transportation project before the designation, establishment, or change in the significance of the property. However, if it is reasonably foreseeable that a property would qualify as eligible for the National Register prior to the start of construction, then the property should be treated as a historic site for the purposes of this section; or
(5) Overall (combined) proximity impacts caused by a proposed project do not substantially impair the activities, features, or attributes that qualify a property for protection under Section 4(f);
(6) Proximity impacts will be mitigated to a condition equivalent to, or better than, that which would occur if the project were not built, as determined after consultation with the official(s) with jurisdiction;
(7) Change in accessibility will not substantially diminish the utilization of the Section 4(f) property; or
(8) Vibration levels from project construction activities are mitigated, through advance planning and monitoring of the activities, to levels that do not cause a substantial impairment of protected activities, features, or attributes of the Section 4(f) property.