Tecumseh Historic Square
The City of Tecumseh, in cooperation with the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) and utilizing Transportation Enhancement funds from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), proposes to construct the Tecumseh Historic Square Preservation project (the Project). The purpose of the Project is to rehabilitate the existing brick streets, the existing sidewalks, and utility infrastructure surrounding the Johnson County Courthouse Square in order to perpetuate the mobility of pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
The Project is located along Broadway Street and Clay Streets from 2nd Street to 5th Street, 3rd Street and 4th Street from Webster Street to Jackson Street (approximately 12 blocks), along the historic town square surrounding the Johnson County Courthouse in downtown Tecumseh.
The Project includes the rehabilitation of existing infrastructure – including the existing brick streets, the existing sidewalks, and existing utility infrastructure – in addition to providing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) improvements. A detailed copy of the Project Description is available here.
The Project will be constructed under a short-term detour route. No construction activities and/or improvements will be completed along the detour route. There will be no change in traffic type or quantity along the detour route. Construction would be phased so only one street at a time would be under construction.
The State has determined that this project has no significant impact(s) on the environment and that there are no unusual circumstances as described in 23 CFR 771.117(b). As such, the project is categorically excluded from the requirements to prepare an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement under the NEPA. The State has been assigned, and hereby certifies that it has carried out, the responsibility to make this determination pursuant to 23 U.S.C. §326 and the First Renewed Memorandum of Understanding dated September 17, 2021 executed between FHWA and the State.
This undertaking has been reviewed under the programmatic agreement entitled Programmatic Agreement Among the Federal Highway Administration, the Nebraska State Historic Preservation Officer, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the Nebraska Department of Roads to Satisfy the Requirements of Section 106 for the Federal Aid Highway Program in the State of Nebraska (July 2015), as amended.
Due to FHWA involvement, the Project has a long history of consultation as required under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, as amended (36 CFR Part 800). The NHPA requires federal agencies to consider and consult about the effects of proposed undertakings on historic properties. NDOT invites your participation, or your agency’s participation, in the consultation required under Section 106 of the NHPA. Additional information regarding Section 106 of the NHPA is available in the publication entitled Protecting Historic Properties: A Citizen’s Guide to Section 106 Review. Consultation regarding the Project is ongoing with the following consulting parties: SHPO; the City of Tecumseh; Johnson County; the Tecumseh Architectural Review Board; the Tecumseh Historic Square Committee; and several individual property owners.
The Project received concurrence from the Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) on May 15, 2014, regarding National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility recommendations. The May 2014 consultation letter summarized the results of cultural resources report which was completed in support of the Project. The cultural resources report identified a single historic property: the Tecumseh Historic District.
North Side of Tecumseh Square, ca. 1900. Image shows the dirt roads prior to the paving project in 1913.
West Side of Tecumseh Square, ca. 1915. Image shows street condition after the 1913 paving project.
The Tecumseh Historic District was listed on the NRHP in 1975 for local significance associated with architecture, community planning, landscape architecture, and politics/government. For your reference, the NRHP nomination form for the Tecumseh Historic District is available here. The Project occurs entirely within the NRHP boundary of the Tecumseh Historic District. The Tecumseh Historic District includes two properties that are individually listed on the NRHP: the Johnson County Courthouse and the Tecumseh Opera House. The brick streets featured in the Project have been determined to be a contributing structure to the larger Tecumseh Historic District as a result of consultation with SHPO.
The Project also received concurrence from SHPO on April 7, 2015, regarding a project effects determination of no adverse effect. The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska was also invited to participate in Section 106 consultation by FHWA in April 2015; however, to date, FHWA and NDOT have not received any comments or response from the Tribe regarding the Project. Consultation regarding the Project is currently being reinitiated with the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska.
In 2015, FHWA and NDOT were unaware of the existence of the Tecumseh Architectural Review Board and the Tecumseh Historic Square Committee. Subsequent to the 2015 SHPO concurrence letter, NDOT identified the Tecumseh Architectural Review Board and the Tecumseh Historic Square Committee as consulting parties. NDOT initiated Section 106 consultation with these parties during a meeting held on September 12, 2018, with both parties and the City of Tecumseh. As a result of this meeting, it was decided that the existing deteriorated brick pavers within the commercial core of the Tecumseh Historic District will be removed, and the streets and crosswalks will be reconstructed with new brick pavers that match the color and configuration of the existing brick pavers. NDOT continued the Section 106 consultation process by providing the Tecumseh Architectural Review Board and the Tecumseh Historic Square Committee with a consultation letter on March 12, 2019. During a telephone conversation between NDOT Professionally Qualified Staff (PQS) Katie Turner and Mr. Steven Mercure, a member of both the Tecumseh Architectural Review Board and the Tecumseh Historic Square Committee, Mr. Mercure indicated that neither he nor any of the other members of the Tecumseh Architectural Review Board and the Tecumseh Historic Square Committee had any questions or concerns regarding the Section 106 consultation materials provided regarding the Project. Mr. Mercure also stated that none of the members of the consulting parties had any questions or concerns pertaining to the Project. Mr. Mercure stated that both parties are pleased with the Project and look forward to the Project’s completion. Documentation regarding consultation with the Tecumseh Architectural Review Board and the Tecumseh Historic Square Committee is available here for your reference.
North Side of Tecumseh Square, ca. 1915. Image shows paving condition after the 1913 paving project.
Property Specific Repairs
Olsson Inc. completed the report entitled Observation Report, Tecumseh Historic Square Preservation – Structural Evaluation (February 18, 2022) (Structural Evaluation). The Structural Evaluation provides an appraisal of the existing basement foundation walls at sixty properties situated along the Johnson County courthouse square and was designed to accurately assess the number and condition of building features. These features include, but are not limited to, the existing coal chutes and underground storage vaults. The results of the Structural Evaluation were used to refine the scope of construction activities associated with filling in and sealing off the existing coal chutes and underground storage vaults, and reconstruction of the sidewalks.
The Structural Evaluation recommends the completion of additional construction activities associated with the following features prior to the reconstruction of the existing sidewalk: underground storage vaults; coal chutes; exterior stairwells; exterior stairways; lightwells; windows; and doorways. The construction activities associated with these features will be completed at twenty-six properties including twenty-four historic properties. Maps showing the locations of these properties are included for your review here.
The construction activities recommended as a result of the Structural Evaluation may require the contractor to access interior spaces of individual properties situated around the courthouse square. Contractor access to individual properties will be negotiated as temporary easements. The temporary easements will be negotiated through recitals by NDOT’s Right of Way Division on a property-by-property basis.
The Structural Evaluation does not recommend the completion of any additional construction activities at the remaining thirty-four properties, fifteen of which are historic properties, located around the Johnson County courthouse square. According to the Structural Evaluation, these remaining properties are typically in good structural condition and any coal chutes or underground storage vaults associated with these properties have been filled in and sealed up prior to the Project.
To view specific information about each property, please click here.
Project effects & determination
Assessing Project Effects
The potential for adverse effects was assessed by utilizing the adverse effects methodology identified at 36 CFR Part 800.5 which state that “an adverse effect is found when an undertaking may alter, directly or indirectly, any of the characteristics of a historic property that qualify the historic property for inclusion in the National Register in a manner that would diminish the integrity of the property’s location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, or association.”
Construction activities proposed within the Historic District include: the reconstruction of the deteriorated brick paved roadway surface and crosswalks of the commercial core of the historic district using new brick pavers; filling in and sealing underground storage vaults and coal chutes; reconstructing an exterior hallway; the sealing of several subterranean windows and doorways; reconstruction of two exterior basement stairwells; filling in/repairing/reconstructing existing lightwells; reconstruction of the existing sidewalk; curb ramp construction/reconstruction; construction of retaining walls; updating existing lighting; installing new water main connections; and installing fire hydrants and valves. There are no construction activities proposed within the boundaries of the Johnson County Courthouse Square, and there will be no improvements to the detour route. Construction will be phased, and the detour route will not experience an increase in the amount and type of traffic that will cause vibratory or auditory effects to the historic properties.
Additional information detailing the construction activities associated with the sidewalks, curb ramps, lighting, water main connections, fire hydrants, valves, retaining walls, brick streets, and the repairs recommended in the Structural Evaluation is available here.
Finally, the potential for the Project to have long term adverse effects on historic properties has been considered. The repairs recommended in the Structural Evaluation meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, therefore, no long-term adverse effects are anticipated as a result of the Project.
Project Effects Determination
The construction activities discussed above will affect historic properties; however, this affect does not rise to the level of an adverse effect as defined at 36 CFR 800.5. Therefore, NDOT has made a project effects determination of no adverse effect.
NDOT has made a project effects determination of no adverse effect. NDOT invites comments on these NRHP eligibility recommendations and the project effects determination of no adverse effect.
The construction commitments designated to help ensure the Project does not adversely affect historic properties are available here.
Please contact Katie Turner if you have any questions or comments.