New Deal Roadside Landscape Features

Consultants evaluated sites in preparation for their treatment report recommendations.

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Implementation + Management
Additional Planning and Research

The study’s final report, Historic Roadside Development Structures on Minnesota Trunk Highways, provided Mn/DOT with a much better understanding of the properties under its jurisdiction. Moreover, it allowed the Department to consider the roadside sites as a single collection of uniquely significant properties rather than as unrelated facilities.

Jackie Sluss, a Mn/DOT historian, noted that, "The report allows Mn/DOT to know immediately if there is a historic roadside property in a project area. Since we will now receive an 'early warning', there is a better chance of avoiding the site. Four historic roadside properties have already been impacted; two will be avoided, but two will be lost. We need to improve that rate."

The report has set the stage for additional preservation planning. First, Mn/DOT retained historic preservation consultants to prepare a treatment report for each of the more than 50 National Register-eligible sites. The treatment reports analyze condition and include detailed information about a site's spatial organization and land patterns; topography; vegetation; circulation; structures, furnishings, and objects; health and safety concerns; environmental concerns; and accessibility considerations. In some cases, reports suggest ways to adapt the site to meet new uses or suggest ways to enhance roadway design (for instance—reducing speed limits for safer access in and out of properties or installing guardrails that meet both safety and aesthetic needs). In all cases, reports include recommendations that will retain National Register-eligibility. Reports also include cost estimates for three comparative treatments: stabilization (critical needs), preservation, and restoration.

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The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties (rev. 1992) now incorporate the terms protection and stabilization into preservation. Mn/DOT began their work using old terms and for consistency has retained these terms. In hindsight using the current terms, preservation, rehabilitation, and restoration, would have served Mn/DOT better when making report recommendations. Rehabilitation--not one of Mn/DOT’s options--is in reality likely to be MN/DOT’s most common treatment method.

The consultants will also rank the sites using priority-ranking criteria developed to help Mn/DOT determine how to allocate its resources. The ranking uses three weighted categories: historical significance, design significance, and integrity. Mn/DOT is ranking the entire collection and creating strategies to manage sites that may not be National Register-eligible, but still contain valuable historic landscape features.

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