Message #332:
From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG
To:   "'Matthias Giessler'" 
Subject: Environmental Research Needs in Transportation, 1997-2002
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 1997 10:26:36 -0700

Environmental Research Needs in Transportation, 1997-2002: CULTURAL RESOURCES

      Kathleen Quinn, Facilitator 
      John Hotopp, Co-Facilitator 
      Kenneth Basalik 
      Harry Budd 
      Sheila Cohen 
      Bruce Eberle 
      Julie Francis 
      Edward H. Hall 
      Delores A. Hall 
      Terry H. Klein 
      Charles Scott 
      Pamela S. Stephenson 
      Evelyn M. Tidlow 


Agency sponsors of transportation projects have a continuing
responsibility to identify, evaluate, and consider project effects on
cultural resources in a venue of changing criteria, standards,
regulations, and priorities. While thousands of previous investigations
were performed and continue to be performed in compliance with Section
106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as well as other
federal and state laws and regulations, the state DOTs and other agencies
are faced with a constantly evolving and changing situation which
increasingly requires the re-evaluation of existing procedures,
techniques, approaches, and resources. 

Our cultural heritage has been investigated in association with
transportation projects since the inception of the regulations mandating
the consideration of project effects on cultural resources more than
three decades ago. The knowledge gained from these investigations often
never leaves the specific project files of the sponsor agency's archives.
The dramatic increase of survey, excavation, evaluation, and recordation
efforts for cultural resources associated with the maintenance and
improvement of our nation's transportation corridors, and the need to
successfully complete highway, bridge, and other transportation projects
under various constraints, requires better information integration,
synthesis, and dissemination. 

Over the past few years, there have been questions emanating from the
offices of the transportation agencies, cultural resource management
professionals, the State Historic Preservation Offices, as well as other
agencies regarding the quantity of data being recovered from these
investigations, potential for information redundancy, repetitive
investigations and studies, and the lack of broader-based research.
Although the identification, evaluation, and consideration of these
nonrenewable resources is consistent with the spirit of preservation,
repositories are increasingly overwhelmed with the materials of our
distant and recent past. Moreover, cultural resource investigations
conducted for transportation projects seldom look beyond the domain of
the specific project to disseminate the results of the findings. Many of
the state preservation offices maintain the files, reports, and site
survey forms from investigations conducted within their jurisdiction, but
few have either obtained the necessary funding and/or support personnel
to aggressively disseminate the data or even pursue the applicability of
the available data as a management, scholarly, or educational tool. 

In response to these concerns, one of the most widely discussed topics
has been the need for centrally indexed (computerized) cultural resource
databases for cultural, historical and archaeological properties. The
development of computerized statewide and/or regional cultural resource
databases would serve as an important management tool to afford improved
efficiency and effectiveness in the project planning, review, and
approval process, as well as encourage scholarly and educational pursuits
through the utilization and application of all types of data associated
with cultural, historical, and archaeological studies. As envisioned,
database integration, information sharing among historic preservation
professionals and agencies, and networking would allow for the automation
of the existing manual systems with faster and more accurate results;
expand the interpretation of data to analyze trends that could be used to
minimize redundancy in data collection; improve cultural resource
information exchange; promote more efficient cultural resource management
and improve the coordination of state archaeological and historical
programs; provide important site location data for making decisions about
future studies (i.e., predictive modeling studies); and stimulate and
improve broad-based research of our cultural history. 

Another issue of concern for the sponsors of transportation projects
across the country is the interpretive variability of the intent of the
regulations and laws mandating cultural resource investigations. As
formalized, the underlying intent of the laws and regulations is the
identification, evaluation and consideration of cultural, historical, and
archaeological resources. The actual implementation of state policies and
procedures that define the techniques, level of effort, and detail
expected in these studies frequently tends to be extremely rigorous and
costly. A review of investigations performed over the past decade may
provide valuable information for current and future projects and may
benefit State DOTs and historic preservation specialists
attempting to compile basic guidelines for transportation projects. 

The ambiguity and frustration in performing cultural resource
investigations for transportation projects is further complicated by the
difficulty in defining study area limits, areas of potential effect, and
resource boundaries. Ongoing and unresolved issues that are generally
handled on a project by project basis include the delineation of the
right-of-way, take areas, and temporary construction zones, as well as
the need, if any, for additional buffer zones outside the legal limits of
the project. There also is the issue of research conducted on private
property (rights of entry and ownership of data) and the dilemma of
defining site boundaries and assessing impacts when only a portion of a
resource is located within the area of potential effect. Last but not
least, is the difficulty of assessing impacts to linear cultural
resources such as former transportation features. In many areas of the
country, the modern transportation system superseded earlier forms of
transportation such as canals, trails, railroad and trolley lines, and
toll roads or turnpikes. Given the lack of any formal guidelines, the
problem, especially for smaller projects, is how to evaluate these types
of resources within the scope of a specific project without performing
extensive research on the entirety of the resource. 

As the interpretation of Section 106 and historic preservation standards
continues to evolve, there have been few innovations in the area of
preservation and mitigation strategies for endangered cultural resources.
New techniques and methodologies for the identification and evaluation of
archaeological resources continue to be explored and implemented;
however, little time and energy have been devoted to their ultimate use
management. Although avoidance of significant cultural resources is
always the preferred alternative, full scale data recovery of
archaeological sites or HABS/HAER recordation of buildings and structures
prior to their demolition are typically employed as mitigation measures
on transportation projects. This is perceived as the traditionally
accepted, yet costly, solution for many transportation project sponsors
who are charged with the
responsibility of maintaining or improving the transportation system
within time and budgetary constraints. As previously mentioned, the
drawback to data recovery/recordation mitigation measures is that the
information recovered is forwarded to the state or federal repositories
where direct access to the benefits of this research by the public is
limited. Mitigation measures such as in-place preservation or formal
burial of archaeological sites, mitigation banking, or the adaptive
re-use, dismantling and/or relocation of historic properties might be
reexamined both for their applicability and effectiveness as a
preservation strategy, and for their potential to contribute cost-
effective solutions to transportation-related projects while
simultaneously protecting vital fragments of our nation's cultural

>From an archaeological perspective, the effects of fill, geotextiles,
and other materials utilized in the formal burial of archaeological sites
might also be reexamined. Computer models and simulations and/or
experimental archaeology might provide pertinent information to
facilitate discussions with the state historic preservation specialists
in the hope of developing new mitigation strategies. In-place
preservation of  archaeological sites at this point in time might afford
the opportunity for cultural resource professionals to assimilate the
available information and encourage the development of new or revised
research questions. Furthermore, in-place preservation of archaeological
sites could save sufficient numbers of these endangered resources for
future investigations when methods of analyzing data and retrieval of
vital fragments of our past may be better developed. 

Alternative mitigation measures for historic architectural properties in
light of engineering and funding considerations also warrant further
scrutiny. AASHTO standards and guidelines are often used to support
recommendations to replace a bridge rather than to rehabilitate the
structure in order to attain the level of  design and/or operational
engineering that is currently considered to be acceptable. The future
consideration of alternatives should likely include an evaluation of the
level of success of marketing programs for the sale and relocation of
historic properties and the possibilities of establishing relocation and
adaptive re-use funds for historic properties related to proposed
transportation projects. 

Finally, the enhancement of public involvement and
educational/interpretive programs demands further attention. The majority
of transportation projects are funded with public monies, yet few
citizens are aware of the results of cultural resource investigations or
the value of these endangered resources. A more structured program of
public outreach appears to be crucial to the success rates of future
transportation projects. It may be appropriate to establish funding line
items or trust funds for public outreach programs such as the development
of pamphlets, videos, posters, lectures, curriculum packages, or other
educational or interpretive programs. 

In summary, our nation's cultural heritage includes a continually
diminishing number of nonrenewable resources that without creative
planning and application of new technologies will be lost forever. As we
approach the twenty-first century, we need to continue to learn from the
past and anticipate the future. 


Title: Review and Improvement of the Existing Processes and Procedures
for Evaluating Cultural Resource Significance

Problem Statement: One of the most important and critical problems faced
by state and local transportation agencies is how to determine the
significance of cultural resources (including but not limited to
archeological sites, historic structures, traditional cultures, and
cultural/historical landscapes). Significance refers to cultural
resources that meet National Register of Historic Places criteria, state
register criteria, and local and tribal
designations. How resource significance is evaluated has direct and
measurable effects on the scope, design, scheduling, and cost of
transportation projects, as well as the protection of cultural resources.

Currently, the processes for evaluating significance are performed on a
piecemeal basis and are generally done within the limited context of
specific transportation projects. Decisions on significance are often
made without reference to previous work or existing information, and are
frequently based on out-of-date information about the location, nature,
significance, and treatment of cultural resources within a given area.
There is also a perception by transportation officials that cultural
resource specialists consider everything to be significant, resulting in
the inventory, evaluation, and treatment of resources in a redundant
fashion. This is a problem which involves state and local programs.
Numerous professional associations, academic institutions, and state and
federal agencies are finding that the use of data base management systems
and the generation of useful contexts and syntheses are very helpful
tools to assess cultural resource significance. However, this has often
been done on a local basis using highly variable techniques and tools,
ranging from simple paper files to Geographic Information Systems. Most
transportation officials are unaware of what has been accomplished by
these groups. The usefulness and cost effectiveness of these efforts has
not been fully assessed in the context of transportation projects. 

Transportation professionals are being called upon to make better
decisions on how to more efficiently manage funds and resources. In order
to make better decisions about cultural resources, a review is needed of:
1) existing database management systems and 2) the mechanisms for
generating cultural contexts employed by tribal, state, and federal
agencies. These systems and mechanisms need to be evaluated for their
ability to quickly and efficiently access existing information on
cultural resources and to provide a  framework in which resources are
evaluated (i.e. the cultural context) and redundancies are identified. By
addressing these needs, transportation officials will be able to make
informed choices about database management approaches and define the most
appropriate process for generating useful contexts leading to better
determinations of resource significance. Furthermore, this will enable
transportation officials to focus time and money on those cultural
resources that are of value to the many communities served by the
transportation project. 

Proposed Research: (1) Conduct a national review of database management
systems used and being developed by state and local agencies that collect
and process cultural resource information. (2) Conduct a nationwide
review of the processes that have been used to generate cultural contexts
and/or syntheses that have been determined helpful by transportation
agencies. These processes include agency overviews, resource management
plans, state plans generated by SHPOs, tribal preservation plans, and
local government preservation plans. (3) Evaluate database management
systems in terms of
their ability to provide access to usable data. (4) Evaluate the
processes used to generate cultural contexts and syntheses and whether
these contexts have been usable to assess resource significance. (5) Make
recommendations as to best practices for database management systems and
generation of cultural contexts and syntheses. (6) Compile these findings
into a comprehensive report for distribution to transportation  officials
and cultural resources professionals for review. This report will provide
recommendations for implementation of best practices. 

Duration: 24 months
Cost: $400,000.00 

Title: Identification of Techniques to Improve Public/Private Dialogue
Regarding Impacts and Benefits of Transportation Projects on Cultural

Problem Statement: There is a need to have a dialogue with the public on
how to incorporate their cultural/historical values into the project
planning and development. This will result in an early identification of
potential public controversy or fatal flaws over cultural resources that
could cause project development schedule delays. In addition, the study
of cultural resources (including, but not limited to: archeological
sites, traditional cultures, historic structures and cultural historic
landscapes) in transportation project development often is viewed as
technical information to be included in the NEPA document as the
end-product. This results in a lack of direct benefits to the public on
what has been learned from the cultural resource studies they have
funded. The information gained from cultural resource studies needs to be
articulated in non-technical terms and shared with the community in ways
that will not threaten the sensitivity of the cultural resources. 

Proposed Research: (1) Survey the state Departments of Transportation and
federal agencies to gather examples of standard and innovative approaches
where cultural/historical values of the community have been incorporated
into project development; (2) Survey the state Departments of
Transportation and federal agencies to gather examples of standard and
innovative approaches in sharing cultural resource information with the
community that directly benefits both the resources and the community;
(3) Evaluate the effectiveness of these approaches in terms of : 

      community satisfaction; 
      educational benefits; 
      economic benefits; and 
      overall time-cost factors in project development. 

(4) Provide recommendations and guidelines on "Best Practices" that will
maximize public participation into how the transportation project best
serves the cultural/historical values of the community; disseminate the
public benefits of cultural survey information; and streamline the
Section 106 process in transportation project development by early
identification and consideration of cultural resources. 

Duration: 18 months
Cost: $350,000 

Title: How Do You Successfully Incorporate 550 Tribal Nations in an
Existing Transportation Network which Recognizes the Value of Culture and
Respects Sovereign Authority?

Problem Statement: Cultural resources (including but not limited to:
archeological sites, traditional cultures, historic structures, and
cultural/ historic landscapes) are critical elements of aesthetic value
for the scenic byways program, heritage areas, tourism initiatives, and
corridor management plans. The traditional cultures that exist in this
country transcend the idea of historic places or landscapes and are
inherent in the vital communities identified by sovereign American Indian
and Alaskan Native Nations. They, as well as other traditional cultures,
should be recognized as assets and incorporated in the transportation

With over 550 federally recognized tribal nations from the east coast to
the west, incorporation of Traditional Cultures into the context of
cultural resources for use by transportation professionals and
communities is problematic. This includes: transportation planning,
impact analysis, public involvement, corridor preservation/development,
and economic enhancement considerations (tourism and trade). Currently
Sovereign Tribal Nations are not included in transportation decision
making. The status that Sovereign Tribal Nations enjoy and the legal
implications of that sovereignty are often overlooked by transportation
professionals. Traditionally, transportation officials have worked with
the Department of Interior (DOI), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in
transportation planning and project implementation. However, tribal
nations are identified under the Constitution as sovereign, with
authority to develop and implement transportation infrastructure. ISTEA
recognizes the status of tribal governments in various programs
including: Statewide Planning, Transportation Enhancements, Scenic
Byways, Local Technical Assistance Program, and the Indian Reservation
Road Program. Thus Tribal Governments are key decision makers as well as
the BIA, and State Highway Administrations (SHAs) and USDOT. 

Proposed Research: Examine what has been accomplished with respect to
transportation partnerships which include tribal governments since ISTEA.

What are the Best Practices for incorporating Traditional Cultures in the
transportation planning, impact  analysis, public involvement, corridor
preservation/development, and economic enhancement considerations
(tourism and trade). How many states have established a partnership with
tribal governments for decision making? Have tribal governments been
involved in transportation decision making? Have tribes been informed of
their role in transportation planning and project implementation? Have
any tribes defined a role for themselves?  What role have tribes had as a
partner in transportation related tourism planning? 

A report reflecting the results of the study will include recommendations
and guidance to implement Best Practices. The report will to be
distributed to SHAs, FHWA, Tribal governments, State Departments of
tourism, Federal Land Agencies, Scenic Byways organizations, BIA,
Metropolitan Planning Organizations, Regional Planning Commissions, etc. 

Duration: 24 months
Cost: $400,000 

Title: Development of Effects Assessment Guidance

Problem Statement: For cultural resources (including, but not limited to,
archaeological sites, traditional cultures, historic structures, and
cultural/historic landscapes), effects assessment is neither well
understood by the transportation agencies, the public or the State
Historic Preservation Officers (SHPOs) nor consistently applied to all
transportation projects. The consequences of this lack of understanding
and consistent application of effects assessment are: difficulty in
assessing the full range of effects, misunderstanding by the public of
the costs and benefits of transportation projects, project delays, and
ultimately, the potential for projects to not adequately protect cultural
resources. Despite regulatory guidance by the Advisory Council on
Historic Preservation (ACHP) and the USDOT, there is a critical need for
a better and wider understanding of the effect assessment process as it
specifically applies to cultural resources in order to ensure both the
adequate consideration of the full range of effects on cultural
resources, and the development of transportation projects that balance
the long term needs of cultural resources, transportation and affected

Assessment of the effects of a proposed transportation project is at the
core of the comprehensive environmental analysis required to shape a
project that satisfies transportation needs and ensures maximum
protection for cultural resources. For cultural resources, the effects
assessment begins with the delineation of the Area of Potential Effect
(APE), moves through the identification of significant cultural
resources, and evaluates effects on cultural resources with the goal of
avoiding or minimizing adverse effects. Direct effects are most easily
and consistently evaluated. Indirect, secondary, cumulative, and induced
effects are not well defined and therefore, not consistently considered
as part of the effects assessment. In fact, guidance as to how to
identify and apply the full range of project effects is lacking. The
assessment of effects under Section 106 of the National Historic
Preservation Act (NHPA) is distinctly different from the evaluation of
project impacts under Section 4(f) of the US DOT Act. Coordination of
these two processes is another potentially problematic issue deserving
review. Additionally, community involvement in the effects assessment
process is not uniform from agency to agency and state to state. 

Proposed Research:

I. Review of planning, environmental analysis, and preservation
literature discussing effects assessments as related to transportation
projects and identification of gaps in the available knowledge. 

II. Survey of federal Department of Transportation agencies (FHWA, FTA,
FAA), state Departments of Transportation, SHPOs, Metropolitan Planning
Organizations (MPOs), Regional Planning Commissions (RPCs) and Tribal
Governments' guidelines and experiences regarding delineation of the APE,
identification and involvement of the affected community, application of
effects assessments and their coordination under both Section 106 and
Section 4(f), and identification of particularly successful or
problematic projects. 

III. Identification of transportation project types that would involve
the application of the full range of effects assessments (direct,
indirect, cumulative, and secondary), such as light rail transit (LRT),
highway bypasses, airport expansions, etc. 

IV. Selection, review and analysis of specific case studies of completed
projects of the type identified in III to evaluate the validity and
efficacy of the community involvement and effects assessments on cultural

V. Development of recommendations and guidance to be used in the process
of assessing effects on different types of transportation projects.
Preparation of draft report for review and comment. Incorporation of
comments and distribution of final report to appropriate public agencies
and interested professionals. 

Duration: 12 - 18 months
Cost: $250,000 - $300,000 

Title: Evaluate Efficiency of "Innovative" vs. "Standard" Cultural
Resource Mitigations

Problem Statement: Over the past 30 years a set of a few standardized
mitigation measures for impacts to standing structures and archaeological
sites have been developed and relied upon by cultural resource
professional and transportation officials. These standard mitigation
measures generally include archaeological data recovery and detailed
architectural mitigation measures typified by Historic American Buildings
Surveys (HABS) or Historic American Engineering Record Surveys (HAER). In
many cases, these mitigation measures are not tailored to the extent of
the project impact or the importance of the resource. These standard
mitigations frequently result in the expenditure of time and funds out of
proportion to their potential benefit to the public or the professional
community. Innovative mitigation measures may be more appropriate for
achieving preservation and project goals for many transportation

Proposed Research: A survey of alternative mitigation strategies will be
undertaken. The results of the study will have wide applicability for
transportation projects throughout the country. Communication with
professional cultural resource managers indicates that creative solutions
more closely tailored to the needs of the projects and resources have
been implemented in a limited number of cases. One of the goals of the
research is to evaluate these "solutions" for their wider applicability. 

A survey of the Advisory Council (ACHP), 50 state SHPOs and DOTs will be
conducted to collect case studies of alternative mitigations that have
been successfully/unsuccessfully employed on cultural resources. The case
studies will be evaluated in terms of the efficiency of time and cost,
the appropriateness of scale and wider applicability of the technique.
Surveys of other environmental specialists and agencies will be conducted
to collect mitigation concepts employed by them that potentially could be
applied to cultural resource issues. 

Preliminary research has indicated that innovative avenues that might be
profitably explored for archaeological mitigations could include but not
be limited to: resource banking, off-site mitigation, and in-place
preservation (e.g., site burial). Innovative mitigations for
architectural resources could include but not be limited to: preservation
easements, land use planning, and adaptive reuse. 

The case studies collected and the techniques identified will be
synthesized and evaluated. The results of the evaluations will be
compiled into a report providing preliminary recommendations for the
implementation of innovative mitigations. These reports will be
disseminated to focus groups for their review and comment. The comments
will be incorporated into a final report. 

Duration: 18 - 24 months
Cost: $360,000 

Title: Identification and Recommendation of Roadway Design Considerations
That Can Be Modified and Applied in Specially Designated Corridors

Problem Statement: Transportation corridors are often within areas that
offer cultural, historic, or scenic qualities. These qualities are many
times strongly embraced and valued by communities and society in general.
The roadways within these corridors are recognized for this value by
receiving an associated designation. These designations include: 

      Scenic and Historic Byways; 
      Scenic and Historic Highways; 
      Scenic and Historic Parkways; and 
      Scenic and Historic Roads. 

Other designations with similar issues include:

      Scenic Parkways; 
      Scenic Byways; 
      Scenic Highways; 
      Scenic Backways; 
      BLM Backways; 
      Forest Service Scenic Byways; 
      NPS Parkways; 
      FHWA: National Scenic Byways; 
      All American Roads; and 
      Locally and Tribally Designated Roads. 

As these facilities receive more use they may require modifications to
respond to the changes in the level of service and to ensure user safety.
These improvements are sometimes detrimental to the qualities valued
within the corridor. There is a need to identify those aspects of roadway
reconstruction that are potentially most detrimental to corridor
resources and consider criteria that take into account the cultural,
historic, and scenic
qualities. These special criteria would provide a more compatible
integration with corridor resources while still providing an appropriate
expectation of safety improvements. 

Proposed Research:

1. Identify and reference ongoing work which identifies critical
cultural, historic and scenic elements. 
2. Perform surveys to establish driver expectation of the resource
3. Perform surveys to establish community and resident expectations of
maintaining the corridor qualities. 
4. Identify, collect and examine previous research, case studies, and
state programs that will aid in compiling a list of the most critical
criteria. Potential criteria that may have the most influence on corridor
compatibility include those affecting roadway width, shoulder treatments,
materials for roadside appurtenances, grading and drainage approaches and
solutions, and tree protection and mitigation. 
5. Determine trade-offs in degree of facility improvement to roadside
resource loss for each of the criteria applications. 
6. Recommend an appropriate new range of application for the examined
criteria which will provide an opportunity for a more balanced
implementation of driver and resident expectations and roadway
improvements within these sensitive corridors. 

Duration: 24 months
Cost: $300,000 

(Final, revised version posted to the Web May 20, 1997, LJW)