Departments of Transportation (DOTs) are tasked by law and regulation to take into account the effects of their projects on properties listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), including buildings and structures. In doing so, DOTs typically follow NRHP practices which focus primarily on resources 50 years of age or greater. However, as each year passes the quantities of Post-World War II resources (particularly buildings and structures) reaching the 50-year threshold increases exponentially. This has been called a “Transportation Timebomb” (Pettis and Squitieri 2013) in which conventional building-by-building approaches to historic property identification surveys become increasingly expensive and time-consuming, and, as a result, a growing impediment to efficient project delivery with each passing year. This represents a problem of national scope relevant to all DOTs.
In 2012, the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) issued Report 723, A Model for Identifying and Evaluating the Historic Significance of Post-World War Housing (NCHRP; Pettis et al 2012). This report was the first attempt to provide a streamlined survey methodology and consistent approach to applying the National Register Criteria to the large number of post-World War II (postwar) residential properties that require evaluation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (Section 106). In developing Report 723, the project team worked with a research panel that represented several states and tested the methodology in three distinct geographic areas in an effort to provide a document that could be used by practitioners and agency staff throughout the county. The methodology and evaluation approach were discussed in detail in a number of webinars and presentations and were well-received by a number of agencies and the National Council of Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO). Except for Report 723, however, there is little published literature on the topic of identifying and evaluating post-World War II resources in the context of transportation project development. Furthermore, no available summary of approaches used by DOTs to manage the growing number buildings reaching 50 years of age for Section 106 consultation exists, especially any developed subsequent to the publication of Report 723.
NCHRP Report 723 suggested a framework for approaching the problem, ultimately leaving specific implementation solutions to individual DOTs and their historic preservation regulatory partners. Because these solutions are not available through conventional literature research, only a compilation and synthesis of these efforts, as is proposed here, can provide DOTs the opportunity access and utilize this information.
The purpose of this research is to synthesize specific approaches DOTs have implemented to identify and evaluate the historic significance of Post-World War housing since the 2012 release of NCHRP Report 723, A Model for Identifying and Evaluating the Historic Significance of Post-World War Housing.