Handy tools for historic road management

Posted in: Cultural Resources


short-with-keylineNational Trends in Inventory, Evaluation and Management

State departments of transportation carry out thousands of road projects annually. How are these DOTs handling the historic roads they encounter in the process? Is there a consistent approach… or best practice? Mead & Hunt recently conducted a survey of DOTs seeking answers to these and other questions faced by cultural resource and environmental professionals.

The survey results identify how many states have taken measures to address historic roads with a focus on the following:

  • Historic contexts: What is available nationally? What themes do contexts cover and what types of roads do they address?
  • Survey and evaluation: How comprehensive are surveys and what road types are represented?
  • Management: What are proactive ways for DOTs to manage historic roads?

DOTs are on the front line—dealing with historic roads to comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and Section 4(f) of the US DOT Act. These federal acts, and their accompanying regulations, encourage the consideration of historic roads when planning and designing projects. Mead & Hunt’s analysis of the survey results identifies common challenges that state DOTs face and highlights trends, opportunities and best practices.

The number one challenge for respondents was meeting design standards, with over 50 percent of DOTs citing this as a major difficulty. The survey also identified an interest and need for guidance on establishing significance and assessing integrity, finding funding for studies and discovery of creative ways to manage and mitigate this unique resource type.

To help professionals further address such challenges, an annotated bibliography of available historic road studies can be downloaded and added to your tool box.


Christina Slattery

About the Author

Christina Slattery specializes in historic preservation of transportation and engineering structures. She evaluates the significance of properties ranging from missile defense systems to road corridors, and develops creative mitigation strategies for projects.

Read more posts by Christina Slattery

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