The final report for the Historic Roads study is now available online! As part of the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Project 25-25, this study was conducted for the AASHTO Standing Committee on the Environment (SCOE). New South Associates, under subcontract to WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff (WSP) and under the direction of the Task 97 Panelists for TRB’s NCHRP Project 25-25, was tasked with two objectives to further the study of historic roads. The first involved reporting on findings from an online survey on best practices in the identification and evaluation of historic roads. An annotated bibliography for studies of historic roads that deal with their history, identification, evaluation, and treatment composed the second task.
The online survey invitation was distributed via SurveyMonkey by email in July 2016 to a total of 1,666 cultural resource professionals working in all 50 states and U.S. territories. The online survey received a total of 524 responses or 31.4 percent of the total recipients.
- Archaeologists represented the biggest share of respondents with 29%, Architectural Historians and CRM professionals each represented about 20% of responses.
- The majority of respondents (35%) reported that they worked for SHPOs, and 25% of participants reported they work for a state DOT.
- Almost 45% of participants reported they have over 20 years of experience in the CRM field.
The survey answers draw an interesting picture of how historic roads are being approached across the country. The majority of respondents (50%) reported there is no formal guidance provided on historic road survey methodology in their state, and 36% reported there is no available historic context or multiple property NRHP nomination for historic roads in their state. However, 70% of participants said they had evaluated at least 1 road in the last 3 years. When asked what their primary concern in the identification and evaluation of historic roads is, the overwhelming number of respondents called for adequate historic contexts to better evaluate the significance of roads rather than simply relying on integrity. The need for guidance to adequately identify, record, and properly evaluate the significance and integrity of historic roads emerged as a clearly defined theme and common response to multiple survey questions.
The full report provides a lot of interesting insights into what our counterparts are doing across the country and the annotated bibliography is an incredibly helpful compilation of resources for professionals working with historic roads. At the project website, you can find the contractor’s Final Report (including bibliography), a PowerPoint presentation summarizing the project, and the annotated bibliography in a searchable spreadsheet format.
For those interested in opportunities to learn more about historic roads, almost 29% of participants identified the “Preserving the Historic Road Conference” as one of the most useful conferences for historic roads. The conference will be held September 13-16, 2018 in Fort Collins, CO. There is even still a couple days left to submit a proposal for the call for papers!