Cultural Resources Protection

Maryland has long been a cultural crossroads. For at least 12,000 years people have left traces of their existence in the form of settlements, roads and artifacts. The physical remains of our past are known as cultural resources and reveal how Native Americans, European Americans, and African Americans, among others, used Maryland's diverse landscape.

Cultural Resource Protection

Each year, the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) coordinates hundreds of projects that range from sign installation to bridge replacement to new highway construction. In accordance with federal laws, our cultural resources team of architectural historians and archaeologists evaluate proposed construction impacts on buildings, historic districts, roadway structures, and archaeological sites, ensuring adverse impacts are avoided whenever possible and minimized or mitigated if the impacts are unavoidable.

The majority of MDOT SHA projects are subject to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. To learn more about Section 106 review for SHA projects, and the role of citizens and consulting parties, view the Citizens’ Guide to Section 106 Consultation in Maryland.

Programmatic Agreement and Minor Projects

MDOT SHA reviews numerous projects with limited potential to affect historic resources each year.

As part of MDOT SHA’s responsibility to consider historic and cultural resources in our actions, MDOT SHA amended its Programmatic Agreement (PA) for Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT), the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA), and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) in 2021. This current version of the PA continues to delegate authority from FHWA to MDOT SHA and provides for streamlined review procedures for minor projects, and other actions with limited potential to affect historic resources. Additionally, FHWA-funded local agency programs administered by MDOT SHA and reviews for MDTA actions are included in the PA.

As part of the PA, MDOT SHA makes a report of these minor project reviews available quarterly. To receive these reports, email

Local Public Agency Programs

The 2021 PA allows for federal-aid local transportation projects to follow the same streamlined Section 106 review process outlined in the PA. MDOT SHA will lead Section 106 reviews for local public agency transportation projects. Appendix 1 and 2 of the amended PA list the project categories that may qualify for the streamlined, exempted review processes. Attachment 1 details how the review process will work and the responsibilities of state and local public agencies in this process.

In 2021, MDOT SHA held an online training session in this process for local public agency personnel involved in project planning. The webinar recording and PowerPoint slides , and a list of Frequently Asked Questions are now available to view online.

For more information about local public agency transportation projects, please see FHWA’s Environmental Review Toolkit for historic preservation; FHWA’s guidance on Section 106 for local public agencies; the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation’s overview of the Section 106 process, and MDOT SHA’s guidance for local public agencies and sub-recipients of federal funds.


MDOT SHA archeologists study the past through the physical remains people left behind. These remains can be as small as a pottery fragment or as large as a sunken ship. Archeologists carefully excavate, record, and interpret artifacts that explain the activities of people who lived in Maryland but left few or no written records.

Architectural History

The hallmarks of Maryland’s diverse cultural heritage are everywhere - from the 17th century signposts of Maryland’s settlers to mid-twentieth century suburban developments. MDOT SHA architectural historians explain our past by combining the investigation of historic standing structures with the interpretation of historic documents. MDOT SHA architectural historians partner with the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) to survey, identify, and record Maryland’s historic standing structures in our mission to implement Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), the National Environmental Policy Act(NEPA) and the Maryland Environmental Policy Act (MEPA).

Maryland Railroads

To enable accurate location, identification and evaluation of railroad resources throughout Maryland, MDOT SHA has developed the “Maryland Railroads Statewide Historic Context.” The completed context provides an overview of Maryland railroad history from the establishment of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in 1827 to the creation of Amtrak in 1976 and introduces a resource typology and glossary with standardized terminology. To streamline survey and evaluation, the context identifies 10 important Maryland railroads most likely to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), along with common resource types unlikely to have significance. MDOT SHA frequently encounters railroad resources during cultural resources surveys, and with these steps, the context ensures that efforts are focused on the most relevant and important resources, allowing MDOT SHA and its partners throughout Maryland to remain consistent and accurate when assessing the state’s railroad history.

MDOT SHA Historic Structures

Additional Resources

Historic Bridges

The Parkton Stone Arch Bridge
The Parkton Stone Arch Bridge was constructed in 1809. It is the oldest bridge in
Maryland still in use. It is on MD 463 over Little Gunpowder Falls in Parkton, Baltimore County.

Bridges hold a special place in our cultural landscape. They link to our past, other communities and economic opportunity. Maryland has many historic bridges eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. In keeping with the National Historic Preservation Act and with our own commitment to protecting Maryland's unique structures, MDOT SHA works with the Maryland Historical Trust to identify historic bridges and small structures throughout the state. Click here to view the Maryland Historic Highway Bridges brochure.

SHA is currently updating its programmatic agreement for historic highway bridges in Maryland in coordination with FHWA and the Maryland Historical Trust.  If you are interested in this process, please email

Below are links to publications with detailed information about Maryland's historic bridges: