Streamlining in practice, Reno’s Spaghetti Bowl

Posted in: Cultural Resources


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TR News is copyright, National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; posted with permission of the Transportation Research Board.

The stretch of highway known as the “Spaghetti Bowl” in Reno, Nevada required significant improvements. Consequently, the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) needed an accurate and efficient historic survey of the hundreds of surrounding postwar suburban properties. Mead & Hunt worked with NDOT to use a streamlined approach that vastly increased efficiency. This approach was recently highlighted in a TR News article.

NDOT needed to evaluate over 650 single-family homes under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act to determine if they qualified for the National Register of Historic Places. This required efficient consultation with the State Preservation Office.

The National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Research Report 723: A Model for Identifying and Evaluating the Historic Significance of Post–World War II Housing, which we authored in 2012, offered a national context in which we could situate regional or local trends. These suburban houses, built between 1945 and 1962, were born from a newly-booming postwar population and subsequent mass exodus of families to new suburbs. Similar histories and architectural features define these structures.

Normally, survey and evaluation requires extensive research of national trends, necessitating the creation of hundreds of inventory forms. The NCHRP meant we did not have to assess each house individually. The report also provided a framework to treat an entire subdivision as one entity or district, which could be recorded on a single district inventory form. As the article states:

“The project team was able to complete context research, field survey, and evaluation in less than 20% of the time typically required to survey a comparable number of individual resources for similar projects. Nevada DOT estimates that the review of these deliverables took less than 50% of the time it would have taken to review individual and district evaluations for postwar residential subdivisions in a large urban transportation project.”

Our thorough understanding of Section 106 of the National Preservation Act means we appreciate the delicate balance between helping critical infrastructure get built and preserving our past. As Department of Transportation project managers know, when it comes to demanding schedules and complicated transportation improvement projects, time is money. Using a streamlined approach helped NDOT achieve this balance with a successful outcome.


Chad Moffett

About the Author

Chad Moffett enjoys different types of historic preservation projects and helping our clients. “Every place has a unique and interesting history. Discovering and understanding these stories and how history affected the built environment is an exciting challenge,” he says. Chad specializes in developing balanced solutions that meet client needs while respecting historic resources for future generations.

Read more posts by Chad Moffett

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