Quality Assurance for Historic Restoration Projects

Focus Area

Historic Preservation/Cultural Resources


Community & Cultural Concerns







Research Idea Scope

Quality preservation and maintenance of historic roadside structures within highway right of way is a challenge within the established low bid requirements of state agencies. As historic preservation generally requires specialty skills and training for trade contractors, it is essential that projects involving historic properties are able to insure that contractors have the required skill sets. In addition, preservation construction standards which are often quite different from modern means and methods must be clearly communicated in the contract documents, and there must be legal and legislative authority to advance innovative contracting procedures to meet these standards. There is inherent in the stewardship of these important cultural resources a social responsibility to preserve their history for future generations. Without a high level of quality assurance in their preservation, these resources are at risk of being lost. The strategies employed by effective quality assurance (QA) programs include:
·         training and certification
·         statistical measures of conformance
·         pay adjustment factors
·         contractor quality control
·         performance-based specifications
While there are established methods which work well for highway construction projects, this is not the case for other “specialty ”non” roadway projects such as the restoration of historic roadside structures listed on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places owned and maintained by DOT’s within highway right- of-way. For purposes of this proposal, roadside structures are defined as permanent, above ground buildings, structures and objects. Examples of historic structures built during the 1930’s and 1940’s which were part of the Minnesota historic structures inventory (see link below to report)include scenic overlook walls, stone picnic tables, interpretive markers, small bridges and other features that were designed to provide highway safety and beautification. These are important cultural resources that merit the highest levels of quality assurance available.
It is proposed that a synthesis be made covering the experiences of transportation agencies and public entities nationally, in the application of quality assurance strategies and best practices for the development of plans and specifications as well as contracting procedures that have ensured high quality historic restoration practices, as well as those that have not. Included will be literature review and case studies of successful and less successful outcomes with analysis of factors leading to various outcomes. In addition, this synthesis will review the legal and legislative policies that have proven effective in supporting high quality historic structure preservation projects and include overall summary recommendations. It will serve as a guide to states for improving their ability to produce the highest quality historic preservation projects in the most cost effective manner, eliminating quality control problems that significantly increase cost and can lead to compromise of historic integrity.

Information Sources:
Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, National Park Service Preservation Briefs, Association for Preservation Technology (APT), State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPO), American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC), American Institute of Architects (AIA), Minnesota Department of Transportation publication, “Historic Roadside Development Structures on Minnesota Trunk Highways” (http://www.dot.state.mn.us/roadsides/historic/files/wayrep.pdf)

Suggested By

Sponsoring Committee: ADC50, Historic and Archeological Preservation in Transportation