Sustainable Transportation and Historic Preservation

Focus Area

Historic Preservation/Cultural Resources


Community & Cultural Concerns




Under $99k


Under 1 year

Research Idea Scope

Research and report on the intersection of sustainability and historic preservation, focusing on identifying the benefits of reinvesting in older, historic transportation infrastructure and in maintaining existing facilities in America’s historic neighborhoods as essential aspects of smart growth & sustainable transportation planning.  The current emphasis on sustainability and livability, and the current economic downturn, require transportation planners to keep costs under control, and to identify opportunities to preserve and adapt existing roadways and bridges to meet modern traffic needs. Research should examine how both preservationists and transportation planners can use existing planning tools to promote stewardship of America’s historic neighborhoods and traditional modes of transportation, and in so doing create (or reuse) more sustainable systems to move people from one place to another.  Research should include recommendations for improving the consideration of historic properties in transportation planning and the use of alternate modes of transportation to keep traffic from overwhelming existing facilities. Research should also include case examples supporting the conclusions and recommendations.

Urgency and Payoff

While there are many anecdotal accounts of the benefits of merging historic preservation and sustainable transportation, research in this area will help educate planners and preservationists on ways to better meet the goals of both preservation and sustainability. This study will also benefit transportation agencies in providing tools for better coordination of Section 106 compliance, NEPA, and local and regional planning. By incorporating local community concerns about preserving historic modes of transportation and historic streetscapes into project design, agencies will streamline environmental review and can avoid altogether adverse effects under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

Suggested By

Carol Legard, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

[email protected]