Crystal City, Texas, 1939

Special designations or recognitions, whether at the local, state or federal level can raise the awareness for an historic road, secure protections or generate funds.

National Register of Historic Places

The National Register of Historic Places, maintained by the National Park Service, is the principal form of recognition for historic properties in the United States. Historic roads, bridges, buildings, structures and affiliated landscapes are all potentially eligible for listing in the National Register. Listing in the National Register is not a guarantee of protection for the listed property. For the National Register resources are generally considered historic if fifty years old or older. While this is not to suggest that a younger resource is not historic, it does serve as a general litmus test of credibility. Listing obligates the managing organization to “take into account” the effects of federally funded projects on an historic resource through Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. In addition many state and local governments will provide additional protections to a National Register listed property. Requests for listing, nominations, must be submitted to the State Historic Preservation Officer.

The National Register of Historic Places Criteria for Evaluation
To assist in determining the significance and historic context of a historic resource, the National Register of Historic Places uses four criteria for evaluation established by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. To be considered for listing in the National Register, a property must meet at least one of four specific criteria and be “associated with an important historic context (period of significance) and retain historic integrity of those features necessary to convey its significance.” The four criteria are:

Criteria A
Associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history.

Historic roads meeting Criteria A may include:
-roads associated with Revolutionary or Civil War campaigns,
-the Selma to Montgomery Highway for its association with the Civil Rights Movement,
-Route 66 for its association with westward migration during the Dust Bowl.

Criteria B
Associated with the lives of significant persons in our past.

Historic roads meeting Criteria B may include:
-the Columbia River Highway for its association with Good Roads advocate Samuel Hill,
-the Mount Vernon Memorial Highway for its association with George Washington,
-the Selma to Montgomery Highway for its association with Dr. Martin Luther King.

Criteria C
Embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction.

Historic roads meeting Criteria C may include:
-the Blue Ridge Parkway for its artistic values,
-the Grand Rounds parkway system designed by noted landscape architect H.W.S. Cleveland,
-the Hana Road as a representative Hawai’ian island belt road

For more information contact the National Register:

National Register of Historic Places
National Park Service
1201 Eye St., NW
8th Floor (MS 2280)
Washington, DC 20005
Main telephone: 202-354-2213

National Scenic Byways Program

The National Scenic Byways Program of the Federal Highway Administration recognizes outstanding highways and byways across the nation. The program designates National Scenic Byways (NSB) and All-American Roads (AAR). NSB’s are nationally or regionally significant road resources and AAR’s represent national destinations—a driving experience so significant one would travel great distances simply to experience the byway. Many roads designated under the program are historic roads such as the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut (NSB), the Lincoln Highway in Illinois (NSB), the San Juan Skyway in Colorado (AAR) and the Selma to Montgomery Highway in Alabama (AAR)

The National Scenic Byways Program designates routes based on six intrinsic qualities. To be designated a NSB a road must possess at least one of the intrinsic qualities, to be designated as an AAR it must possess at least two. The six intrinsic qualities are:

• Scenic
• Historic
• Cultural
• Natural
• Recreational
• Archaeological

To be eligible for designation as a NSB or AAR a byway must first be designated as a state scenic byway and prepare a Corridor Management Plan (CMP)—a planning document outlining a strategy for the road’s management to ensure that the intrinsic qualities enabling designation are sufficiently managed or protected. CMP’s may be developed as advisory, recommended or regulatory documents—the nature of the document sufficiently flexible, as designed by the FHWA, to meet local needs and realities. Designation as a NSB or AAR makes the road eligible for technical assistance, program marketing and promotion and grants.

For more information contact the National Scenic Byways Program:

National Scenic Byways Program
Federal Highway Administration
400 Seventh Street, SW
Washington, DC 20590

National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark

The National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark (NHCEL) program of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recognizes significant achievements in the field of civil engineering. The program has recognized a number of historic roads, including the Historic Columbia River Highway in Oregon and the Arroyo Seco Parkway in California, for their contributions in design and technology. The NHCEL program was established to:

Encourage all civil engineers to become more aware of the history and heritage of their own profession.

Increase appreciation by the public of civil engineering contributions to the progress and development of the United States and the world.

Identify and designate national historic civil engineering works that have made a significant contribution to the development of the United States and to the profession of civil engineering in particular.

Encourage, where appropriate and feasible, the preservation of significant historic civil engineering works.

Provide a documented archive of Civil Engineering Historic Landmarks for the use of engineering students, professional writers, researchers, and historians.

Promote the inclusion of information on Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks in encyclopedias, guidebooks, and maps used by the general public.

The NHCEL program uses the following criteria to determine designation:

The nominated project must be of national historic civil engineering significance. Size or technical complexity of design or construction is not sufficient in itself.

The project must represent a significant facet of civil engineering history, but does not have to be designed or constructed by a civil engineer.

Projects must have some special uniqueness (e.g., a first project constructed); or have made some significant contribution (e.g. the first project designed by a particular method); or utilized a unique or significant construction or engineering technique. The project itself must have contributed to the development of the nation or at least a very large region. Thus a project that did not make a contribution, did not lead to some other development, or was a technical "dead end" may not be of national historic significance, although it was the "first" (or only one) of its kind.

Projects should be generally available to the public view, although safety considerations or geographic isolation may restrict access.

Nominated projects should be at least 50 years old from the substantial completion at the time an ASCE plaque presentation is desired.


Criteria and goals were copied from the American Society of Civil Engineers website
For more information contact the ASCE:

American Society of Civil Engineers
1801 Alexander Bell Drive
Reston, Virginia 20191

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