A look at varying methods on addressing historic bridges

Posted in: Bridges, Cultural Resources

Interested in how the Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act process is evolving for historic bridges? In Environmental Practice, an article I authored looks at different approaches that states have taken to address their historic bridges.

Let me share a few highlights from the article, “Historic bridges nationwide: A comparative analysis of states and identified best practices”:

Managing the Section 106 process for historic bridges is a significant issue for state departments of transportation to address. It is estimated that 60 percent or more of these agencies’ Section 106 compliance projects are historic bridges. On the national level, the Program Comment for Common Post-1945 Concrete and Steel Bridges has helped streamline Section 106 for about 200,000 bridges by exempting most bridges of this era from historic consideration. Now, only postwar bridges of exceptional historic significance require consideration under Section 106.

Additionally, I looked at five states — Minnesota, Louisiana, Indiana, Oklahoma and Utah — with proactive measures for managing their historic bridge populations. Each state approached their pool of uncommon historic bridge types outside the scope of the Program Comment somewhat differently. However, in each case the state transportation agency took steps to manage projects affecting historic bridges more efficiently than past practices.

These five states are setting a precedent that could be used as a model for other states. If used nationwide, these new approaches might significantly improve the efficiency and savings on historic bridge project Section 106 compliance. For example, with the approaches described, the featured states avoided time delays and conflicts when a bridge owner wanted to replace a historic bridge that has a vocal preservation constituency.

Mead & Hunt has played a role in helping each of the five states come up with efficient and creative solutions to their historic bridge populations. This gives us a unique perspective on these historic resources.

Click here for a free e-print of the article, “Historic bridges nationwide: A comparative analysis of states and identified best practices.”

Amy Squitieri

About the Author

Amy Squitieri, an expert in historic bridges, helps states and bridge owners balance engineering needs for safety and good function with interests to preserve the legacy of the past. “Success is when an owner can reuse their existing infrastructure in a way that’s both functional and retains important aspects of engineering heritage,” says Amy. She leads Mead & Hunt’s Environment and Infrastructure Group.

Read more posts by Amy Squitieri

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