"Giving Away the Bridge": A National Synthesis of on Transferring Ownership of Historic Bridges

Focus Area

Historic Preservation/Cultural Resources


Community & Cultural Concerns




Under $99k


Under 1 year

Research Idea Scope

Federal law requires state departments of transportation (DOTs) to make available for donation to non-DOT parties any historic bridge that is programmed for demolition or replacement (23 USC 144(o)(4)). This requirement applies to any historic bridge regardless of type, size, or condition. While historic bridges have been donated successfully to non-DOT parties and preserved/repurposed for non-highway uses, often non-DOT owners are not found for many historic bridges if the structures are unsuitable for relocation, too large, or in very poor condition. If the kinds of bridges most suitable – and unsuitable – for donation or relocation can be defined, then the public expensive of attempting to find new owners for the unsuitable structures could be eliminated. A national synthesis of the actual performance of finding new owners for historic bridges likely will reveal patterns of success and failure that could then be used to influence national policy and practice.

Urgency and Payoff

Increasing limitations on transportation funds and acceleration of bridge rehabilitation needs make efforts to save unnecessary expenditures of money and time urgent needs.

Suggested By

Antony F. Opperman, Virginia Department of Transportation

[email protected]