skip to main content
Environmental Review Toolkit

Historic Roads

The preservation of historic roads is important to the preservation of national heritage and culture. Both governmental and non-governmental agencies have created programs intended to create an appreciation for and safeguard historic roads and the social history they embody. Examples of programs and projects in historic road preservation are listed below.

plus sign Route 66
minus sign Route 66
photo of a Phillips 66 Gas Station on Route 66-McLean, TX
Phillips 66 Gas Station on Route 66 in McLean, Texas. Photo courtesy of
the National Route 66 Federation.

Route 66, the United States' first all-weather highway linking Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California, reflects the national evolution of road transportation. Organizations with the mission of preserving this historically significant highway are described below.

  • National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program—This NPS program is a source for preservation and historical information relating to Route 66, including interactive maps, photos, and travel itineraries.
  • RRoute 66 Travel Itinerary—National Park Service Route 66 Discover our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary.
  • Route 66 Corridor Preservation—In 1999 Congress passed an Act to create the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, in response to the recognized need to preserve the rich resources of the historic highway. The National Park Service administers the program.
  • Oklahoma Route 66—Includes construction history, links to official records, maps, and a picture gallery.
plus sign The Lincoln Highway
minus sign The Lincoln Highway
Image of the Lincoln Highway near Lyman, Wyoming
Image of the Lincoln Highway near Lyman, Wyoming

The Lincoln Highway is a 3300-mile long road stretching across the United States from New York City to San Francisco. Its creation was the result of the first successful effort to build an all-weather transcontinental highway specifically for automobiles. Sites related to the Lincoln Highway include:

  • The Lincoln Highway Association is dedicated to preserving and promoting the Nation's first transcontinental highway for the automobile.
  • While the Lincoln Highway runs from coast to coast, Pennsylvania has designated a six-county region as the Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor. The LHHC works to promote economic development through tourism grant programs and community beautification projects.
plus sign Interstate Highway System
minus sign Interstate Highway System

As the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways (Interstate Highway System) approached the fifty-year anniversary on June 29, 2006, large sections of the Interstate System would have achieved the mark at which resources are often evaluated for historic significance. In order to address the volume of administrative work this could foster, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation adopted the Section 106 Exemption Regarding Effects to the Interstate Highway System on March 10, 2005.

Glenwood Canyon section of I-70 in Colorado. Photo courtesy of Joseph K. Kracum, Kracum Resources, LLC
Glenwood Canyon section of I-70 in Colorado. Photo courtesy of Joseph K. Kracum, Kracum Resources, LLC

This exemption effectively excludes the majority of the 46,700-mile Interstate System from consideration as a historic property under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). In addition, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU, Public Law 109-59, Aug. 10, 2005) includes a provision (Section 6007) that exempts the bulk of the Interstate Highway System from consideration as a historic resource under Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act. With these two exemptions in place, Federal agencies are no longer required to consider the vast majority of the Interstate Highway System as historic property under Section 106 and Section 4(f) requirements.

Excluded from these respective exemptions are elements of the Interstate System that are exceptional in some way or meet a national level of significance under the criteria for the National Register of Historic Places. The final list above identifies those elements that are not covered by the exemptions discussed above and will therefore continue to be subject to consideration under the Section 106 and Section 4(f) processes.

plus sign Additional Road Resources
minus sign Additional Road Resources