Evaluating the historic significance of structures, landscapes, archaeological sites, and traditional cultural properties is a critical problem faced by state and local transportation agencies. Typically, this problem has been approached piecemeal as a particular resource or set of resources is discovered on a transportation project. Correct evaluation, however, requires consideration of the individual cultural resource, the resource type, and the historic context. Much information has been gathered in the last 20 to 30 years through extensive surveys; the data are organized by lists, card files, and some computerized systems developed individually by states. Use of this information is restricted by access problems and limited awareness of its availability.
Consistent application of the National Register criteria for historic significance requires that substantive historic contexts be developed. Information technology (IT) can offer project managers access to cultural-resource data that have been gathered in each state through tools that may include geographical information systems or other databases. Such information "sharing" offers the potential to improve the evaluation of significance by allowing more efficient access to a national pool of historic contexts and inventory information.
NCHRP Project 8-40 identified current methods used nationwide to manage and organize cultural resource inventory data and historic contexts, determined if information technology applications (IT) have been useful in developing resource inventories and historic contexts, and provided recommendations regarding IT applications to improve the development and use of resource inventories and historic contexts as tools for determining resource significance. The draft final report for Project 8-40 provides options for improving the collection, organization, and management of the data collected and options to make the data available to a wider audience.
The objectives of this research are to (1) prepare a concise summary of the draft final report for NCHRP Project 8-40 and (2) develop prototype tools that will assist in improving the collection, organization and management of the collected data.
To accomplish the objectives, the following tasks are envisioned: (1)
Prepare a concise summary of the draft final report for NCHRP Project 8-40. The summary will be published and distributed by the NCHRP as a Research Results Digest. (2)
Convene a focus group of Information Management Professionals to review Components 1, 2, 3, and 7 of Table 1 in the Project 8-40 draft final report. The focus group should include representatives from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and the Transportation Research Information System. (3)
Develop a draft prototype "Historic Context Developer Tool" (Item 4 in Table 1 of the draft final report for Project 8-40). (4)
Prepare an interim report documenting the recommendations from the focus group and including the prototype developed in Task 3. The interim report shall include preliminary concepts and cost estimates for developing the prototypes in Task 6.
Meet with the NCHRP panel to review the Task 4 Interim Report, approximately 1 month after its submittal. (6)
Develop prototypes for components 1, 2, 3, and 7 in Table 1 of the draft final report for Project 8-40. (7)
Submit the final report documenting the entire research effort. The final report shall describe how the project was conducted and include instructions for using the prototype tools developed in Task 6.
Product Availability: NCHRP Research Results Digest 277
summarizes the findings of NCHRP Project 8-40. The final report has been published as NCHRP Report 542