This presentation is part of Are We There Yet? Preservation of Roadside Architecture & Attractions Symposium, Tulsa, Oklahoma, April 10-12, 2018.
By Michelle Barnett, P.E.
In 1927, Tulsan Cyrus Avery established Route 66, the Mother Road, running from Chicago to Los Angeles, including 30 miles in the heart of Tulsa. The cars and trucks that traveled Route 66 catalyzed businesses along the corridor. Service stations, gas stations, plating shops, painting operations, motels, and salvage yards blanketed the landscape. But today, the very businesses that once made the corridor hum with energy need modern financial and cleanup tools for redevelopment.
Whether a property is perceived to be contaminated or actually is, owners can expect that there will be costs to address environmental issues. Typical contamination associated with historic properties includes asbestos in insulation, vinyl tile, mastic, ceiling tiles and more; lead-based paint on surfaces; petroleum products at former gas stations and service stations; and metals from plating and manufacturing.
Depending on your location, funds may be available at the local, state, and federal level to help assess, characterize, and cleanup both interior and exterior contamination. At the local level, many communities, like Tulsa, manage Revolving Loan Funds (RLFs) which provide low interest loans and grants for site cleanup. Communities may also have funds available to assess and characterize contamination prior to cleanup. At the state level, similar programs area available including the RLF for cleanup as well as Targeted Brownfields Assessment (TBA) funding for site environmental assessment and characterization. At the federal level, additional TBA funding is available to help buyers determine what contamination may exist at a property or to characterize the extent of contamination and to conduct cleanup planning and cost estimating.
Michelle Barnett, P.E., has more than 20 years of experience and has worked with EPA’s brownfields program for the last 10 years. She is the Director of the City of Tulsa’s Brownfields program and is currently working on several site cleanups, including two along historic Route 66. Because two of biggest barriers to getting contaminated properties back into use are knowledge and money, Ms. Barnett’s role is working with the public and private sector to identify funding for brownfield cleanup and redevelopment projects.