The National Academies

NCHRP 25-67 [Anticipated]

Cultural Resources Mitigation: What Works and What Doesn’t?

  Project Data
Source: AASHTO Committee on Environment and Sustainability
Funds: $500,000
Staff Responsibility: Jennifer L. Weeks
Fiscal Year: 2023

This project has been tentatively selected and a project statement (request for proposals) is expected to be available on this website. The problem statement below will be the starting point for a panel of experts to develop the project statement.

When a transportation project has an adverse effect to historic properties under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, the project sponsor is required to complete mitigation measures. Development of mitigation is done in consultation with the Section 106 stakeholders. Mitigation measures, such as Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS), archaeological data recovery and associated research, and educational publications are considered typical mitigation. Different, new, or creative mitigation measures are not normally considered due to time constraints and funding limitations. Recent years have seen a shift to greater consideration of creative mitigation alternatives; however, the degrees of success of implemented mitigation are rarely discussed. Research is needed to identify and assess the effectiveness of new and creative mitigation approaches.

The objective of the research is to identify and assess the success of creative or atypical mitigation strategies previously implemented in producing a public benefit. The following approach is a potential means of completing this research objective: (1) provide a list of types of historic properties adversely affected by transportation projects and the nature of the impacts; (2) identify common and more creative mitigation measures that have been applied for addressing the potential identified impacts; (3) identify the degree to which mitigation measures were successful in producing a benefit to the public and the possible reasons for the degree of success, as well as any impediments to that success; and (4) summarize the best practices for mitigation development and implementation.

State DOTs struggle with developing cultural resources mitigation to meet the current expectations of the public and the requirements of their State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). This research would be highly beneficial to cultural resources professionals (SHPOs, state and federal departments of transportation staff and their consultants) seeking to implement successful mitigation for environmental compliance and documentation of transportation capital projects in accordance with the National Environmental Protection Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.

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