The Virginia Department of Transportation's (VDOT) cultural resources program is managed out of the Central Office in Richmond, with teams of archaeologists and architectural historians serving in four regions around the commonwealth.
The program’s focus is on complying with federal and state historic preservation mandates, such as the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (Section 106) and its implementing regulation, 36 CFR Part 800.
In doing so, VDOT consults with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and other parties to determine if a transportation project or activity will affect buildings, structures, districts, objects, and sites listed in, or eligible for listing in, the National Register of Historic Places.
VDOT often must conduct field studies to identify such resources and it’s not uncommon for the public to encounter VDOT archaeologists or architectural historians performing investigations.
VDOT recognizes the importance of history and historic preservation to Virginia and seeks to avoid or minimize impacts to our heritage when possible.
Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires that the effects of “undertakings” (such as transportation projects) involving federal funds or using federal licenses or permits be taken into account through a consultative process defined in 36 CFR 800.
VDOT carries out that process, on behalf of its federal partners (such as the Federal Highway Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Tennessee Valley Authority) through a programmatic agreement tailored for the needs of Virginia’s transportation program.
Historic bridges are a unique class of historic properties administered by VDOT. Such structures include covered wooden bridges, metal truss bridges, masonry structures, and concrete bridges. In 2017 VDOT, in concert with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and the Historic Structures Task Group, reevaluated the VDOT inventory of historic bridges. VDOT and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources entered into a Memorandum of Agreement concerning the eligibility of VDOT-owned bridges to the National Register of Historic Places. The result is a list of 38 VDOT-owned bridges that are individually eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
Some of these bridges are listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register and National Register of Historic Places. One bridge, the “Humpback” covered bridge in Alleghany County, is recognized as a National Historic Landmark.