Improving and Streamlining Historic Context Development, Identification, and Evaluation: Focus on Post World War II Commercial Properties

Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), when a transportation project involves federal funding, licensing, or permitting, transportation agencies must identify and evaluate properties that are listed or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Section 106 also requires that transportation agencies determine if a project will have adverse effects on historic properties and how those effects can be resolved. Experience has shown that successful and timely completion of Section 106 consultation can be a challenge when, for instance, it is initiated too late in the project development process, or when it involves complex projects, large numbers of consulting parties, or ubiquitous or understudied property types. State departments of transportation (DOTs) continue to seek ways to better fulfill their Section 106 responsibilities while also supporting expedited project delivery schedules and managing agency resources effectively. Two valuable strategies are (1) the use of project-level programmatic agreements (PAs) and (2) a robust approach to context development, identification, and evaluation of a challenging property type. NCHRP Report 723: A Model for Identifying and Evaluating the Historic Significance of Post-World War II Housing provides a national historic context and National Register eligibility guidelines for postwar houses and residential subdivisions. However, little guidance is available for postwar commercial properties such as gas stations, shopping centers, drug stores, office buildings, restaurants, and other non-residential properties. As a result, evaluations of these property types require significant time and staff resources. Inconsistent approaches also provide regulatory partners with inconsistent information, which means more time may be needed to complete consultation, resulting in project delays. Further, the volume of postwar property evaluations can be overwhelming for state DOTs, FHWA division offices, state historic preservation officers (SHPOs), and tribal historic preservation officers (THPOs). Research is needed to provide state DOTs, their regulatory partners, and other stakeholders with guidance on how to adopt and implement these two strategies. The objective of this research is to equip state DOTs, SHPOs, THPOs, and other partners to improve their efforts in meeting their Section 106 responsibilities in two major areas of practice by providing: (1) A review of current use of and best practices and lessons learned in the development and implementation of project-level PAs; and (2) A structured, replicable methodology for context development, identification, and evaluation of common commercial property types built between 1945 and 1980.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $500000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 25-62

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Hartell, Ann

  • Start Date: 20200415
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01707521
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 25-62
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Jun 3 2019 3:18PM