Integrating Cultural Resource Management (CRM) and Historic Preservation into Transportation Planning

Focus Area

Historic Preservation/Cultural Resources


Community & Cultural Concerns







Research Idea Scope

Since the passage of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) in 2005, the Federal Highway Administration has continued to encourage a more integrated approach to transportation planning and project development.  Section 6001 of SAFETEA-LU and the revised planning rule at 23 CFR 450.212 and 450.318 encourage the involvement of State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPOs), Indian Tribes, and other preservation advocates in Statewide Transportation Planning and Metropolitan Transportation Planning processes. Indian tribes and the historic preservation community have not traditionally participated in transportation planning or early NEPA review and, and attempts to play a meaningful role are sometimes stymied by a lack of sufficient data on the locations of historic properties in the planning area. 
Research is needed to determine how to bring Tribes and State Historic Preservation Officers, and other preservation advocates into the project planning and development process, especially at early stages. The research would identify the types of decisions and activities involving cultural resources that could be moved out of project development and into planning. It would also identify strategies, methodologies and technologies for identifying and evaluating cultural resources at a regional planning level, rather than at a project-specific level. Finally, a survey would be conducted to identify best practices and a working group would be convened to develop a scope for a pilot/demonstration project. The objective of this research project is the completion of a synthesis of best practices and the tools needed to effectively integrate historic preservation considerations into transportation and project planning.  
Based on review of guidance on integrated planning that has been developed by FHWA and now known as Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) and a survey of a sample of state based processes used for transportation planning, researchers should develop the following information for the synthesis:

1) Identify best practices for the inclusion of historic preservation concerns in statewide and regional transportation planning;2)Identify best practices for involving SHPOs/THPOs, Indian tribes, and other stakeholders, including the public, in consideration of historic preservation concerns during transportation planning; 3)Identify best practices for early NEPA participation for SHPOs/THPOs, and Indian tribes; 4) Determine if, and how, transportation agencies are getting Indian tribes to the table during planning to discuss historic preservation issues; 5) Identify the staffing and tools needed to effectively integrate historic preservation in planning, what is critical for an effective program and what can be done with limited financial resources; 6) Identify ways that some state DOTs have been able to fund  broad-based cultural resources surveys for planning purposes; 7) Discuss the challenges and obstacles to effective consideration of historic preservation concerns during planning and early project development; and 8) Identify steps that can be taken to overcome challenges. 9) A working group would be convened to develop a scope for a pilot/demonstration project.

    Urgency and Payoff

    It is anticipated that the research would confirm the benefits of early CRM, which would include expediting project delivery, reducing project costs, streamlining NEPA and Section 106 compliance, improving predictability of project outcomes, increasing the avoidance of impacts to historic properties and improving management and conservation of historic properties.

    Suggested By

    Bill Hauser, Chair, AASHTO Subcommittee on Community and Cultural Concerns Gail D'Avino, SCOE Community and Cultural Concerns Subcommittee, October 19, 2007

    [email protected], [email protected]