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Texas Historical Commission
Over the course of two field sessions in May 2016 and in May 2018, SWCA Environmental Consultants (SWCA) conducted an intensive cultural resources survey along the proposed State Loop (SL) 195 from Farm-to-Market (FM) 755 to 1.4 miles west of the intersection of U.S. Highway (US) 83 and Loma Blanca Road in Starr County, Texas. This work augmented previous investigations by Cox-McClain and Hicks and Company. This management summary addresses the cumulative work completed, resources identified, eligibility recommendations, and what remains to be completed.
SWCA’s work was conducted in compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (54 US Code 306108) and the Antiquities Code of Texas (9 Natural Resources Code 191). Christopher Ringstaff served as Principal Investigator under Texas Antiquities Permit No. 7655. TxDOT proposes construction of a new-location roadway from Farm-to-Market (FM) 755 to 1.4 miles west of the U.S. Highway (US) 83 and Loma Blanca Road intersection in Starr County, Texas. The new-location roadway, SL 195 (formerly US 83 Reliever Route), would be a four-lane divided rural highway located within a typical 350-footwide right-of-way (ROW). The Project is divided and undertaken under three separate CSJs: 3632-01-001, 3632-01-002, and 3632-01-003.
The Project’s area of potential effects (APE) is defined as one 350-foot-wide, contiguous ROW (with occasional variance of up to 500 feet wide) extending for 17.4 miles, that consists of an existing ROW and a new ROW. According to typical design sections, the depth of impacts is estimated to be up to 40 feet below the current ground surface for the bridge supports and up to 6 feet in depth for the rest of the project. The entire SL 195 project covers a total area of approximately 824.5 acres.
Previous cultural resources investigations by Cox-McClain (2014) and Hicks and Company (2006) evaluated 458.9 acres of the overall project area. SWCA has conducted cultural resources investigations in 2016 and 2018 encompassing 276.4 acres of the overall project area. Cumulatively, 735.3 acres (89 percent) of the SL 195 project alignment has been evaluated while the remaining, non-access, parcels account for 89.2 acres (11 percent) of the total project. The cumulative efforts of these cultural resources investigations recorded 23 archeological sites (41SR234, 41SR242, 41SR243, 41SR342, 41SR376–379, 41SR381, 41SR383–386, 41SR389, 41SR417-419, 41SR425, and 41SR458–462) within the APE (Table 1).
These sites are predominantly prehistoric (n=19; 83 percent) campsites or lithic scatters, but four sites (17 percent) are multi-component containing prehistoric and historic earlymiddle twentieth century assemblages. Twenty sites (41SR234, 41SR243, 41SR342, 41SR376–379, 41SR381, 41SR383, 41SR384, 41SR385, 41SR386, 41SR389, 41SR417–41SR419, 41SR425, 41SR458, 41SR460, and 41SR461) are recommended as not eligible for NRHP or SAL designation. Of the remaining three sites, 41SR242 and 41SR459 have undetermined eligibility and warrant avoidance or further investigation while 41SR462 is considered eligible for listing to the NRHP as detailed below.
Site 41SR242 is a multi-component site consisting of a Late Archaic camp site with a dense scatter of burned rock and lithic debris and a historic component of unknown age. Based on the initial survey which included SWCA's intensive shovel testing and TxDOTs backhoe trenching, the discovery of a high density debitage feature in apparent intact sediments supported additional work was warranted to determine NRHP and SAL eligibility. Site 41SR242 was tested in February and March 2017 with the results of the investigations forthcoming to the SHPO once the analysis is completed. Site 41SR459 is a prehistoric campsite with surficial and buried deposits consisting of a hearth field (i.e., multiple hearths) and lithic scatter. Due to the buried deposits and abundant earth oven features suggesting an overall high research value. As such, avoidance or additional work (i.e., test excavations) to determine the eligibility for designation as an SAL or for inclusion in the NRHP. Site 41SR462 is a buried multi-component site on Los Olmos Creek containing a dense prehistoric artifact assemblage dating to the Middle Archaic. The site has intact buried, possibly stratified deposits, with an assortment of cultural materials suggesting varied cultural activities suggesting an overall high research value and is considered eligible for listing to the NRHP and as an SAL based on the rarity of the site type, integrity, geomorphic setting, and overall lack of historic land-use modification which is almost unprecedented in the region
In summary, 753.4 acres (89 percent) of the overall 17.4-mile long SL195 project encompassing 822.5 acres has been investigated for cultural resources. No access was available for the remaining 89.2 acres (11 percent) of the project area. These remaining areas are recommended for cultural resources investigations. Of the 23 archeological sites encountered during the cultural resources surveys of the project APE, nineteen sites are recommended as not eligible for both the NRHP and SAL designations; no further work is recommended on these sites. Based on the initial survey, site 41SR242 was tested in February and March 2017 with the results of the investigations forthcoming to the SHPO once the analysis is completed. Based on the results of the addendum survey, sites 41SR459 and 41SR462 are recommended as having undetermined NRHP and SAL eligibility; SWCA recommends further investigations to determine eligibility or avoidance. TxDOT concurs but has determined site 41SR462 to eligible for listing to the NRHP and as an SAL based on the rarity of the site type, integrity, geomorphic setting.
As reported, the majority of the survey was conducted by SWCA on behalf of TxDOT with supplimental investigations by TxDOT. TxDOT believes the survey represents a reasonable and good faith effort to locate and identify historic properties as per 36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 800.4(b)(1), and cultural resources as per Subchapter A of Chapter 26 of the Texas Administrative Code, throughout the proposed project APE.
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