Transferring Ownership of Historic Bridges: Approaches and Challenges

Since the late 1980s, federal law has required that a state using federal funds to replace a historic bridge shall first attempt to donate that bridge to a responsible party. The present study seeks to answer three essential questions about this aspect of federal law. First, in general, how well is it working? Second, among the approaches taken by different states, which approaches seem to work and which do not? Third, are there specific recommendations for how this program could be made to work better, for individual states and for the program on a national basis? This is the first major study to address this program and its effectiveness. Because it is a pioneering study, the first step in the research was to gather as much information as possible about how the program is working on a national basis. This literature search was accomplished through “desk-top” research, inspecting the websites of all 50 state departments of transportation (DOTs) as well as various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that focus on historic bridge issues. To gain a more detailed analysis of how the program is implemented, interviews were conducted involving 10 state DOTs, a few state historic preservation officer (SHPO) programs, a small number of NGOs, and a branch of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Each interviewee was asked a series of patterned questions but was requested to fill in other information not covered in those patterned questions. The results of the literature search and the interviews allowed the researchers to draw conclusions about the various approaches taken by different states and to make observations about which practices seemed to work better than others. Finally, these conclusions helped to support a series of recommendations for steps that could be taken to better this program, in individual states and in the program nationally. This report is organized around the three steps outlined above. Section 2 presents the findings from the literature review. Section 3 presents the findings from the interviews. Section 4 presents the conclusions drawn from the literature search and interviews. Section 5 contains recommendations that might help improve implementation of this program, in individual states and nationally. As a general matter, the donation requirement can be shown to have preserved many bridges nationally and is a success in that regard. It is also a program whose implementation differs greatly from one state to the next and the success of which differs widely. The recommendations for the future have to do chiefly with achieving a greater uniformity among state practices as well as encouraging states to adopt practices that have been shown to work well in a small number of states with an active historic bridge preservation program.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 53p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01672225
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: NCHRP Project 25-25, Task 88
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 8 2018 2:13PM