This research conducted under this project identified current methods to manage and organize cultural-resource survey and content information and developed recommendations regarding IT applications to improve consistency in the evaluation of resource significance.
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.
The final report is available on request from the NCHRP. The final report has been summarized in NCHRP Research Results Digest 277