Texas Historical Commission
Texas Department of Transportation archeologists conducted an intensive cultural resources survey on July 5th and 6th, 2017, of approximately 6.125 acre of existing FM 457 right-of-way (ROW) in Matagorda County, Texas. Investigations occurred prior to the proposed construction of a new bridge across the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW). The work was conducted in compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (Title 54, U.S. Code § 306108) and the Antiquities Code of Texas (Title 9, Natural Resources Code, Chapter 191). Allen Bettis served as Principal Investigator under Texas Antiquities Code Permit No. 8063.
The area of potential effects (APE) is defined as the proposed project length (3,107 feet) within the existing 24 to 30-foot-wide FM 457 ROW. Depth of proposed impacts for the roadway are estimated to be no more than 2 feet below the ground surface, while impacts for bridge columns would extend to approximately 10 feet below the ground surface. Approximately 4.2 acres of proposed new ROW would be acquired for this undertaking. The total acreage of the APE is 6.125 acres.
A background review revealed that there are no previously conducted archeological survey areas within or adjacent to the APE, the nearest recorded survey is approximately 1 kilometer to the southeast of the APE. No archeological sites are recorded within 1 km of the APE; however, there are three recorded sites just beyond 1 km on either side of the APE along the coastline. Similarly, a review of historic maps indicated that there may be a possibility of Civil War era earthworks in the area of the APE related to the Union blockade.
Field investigations consisted of an intensive survey of the APE via the excavation of four mechanical backhoe trenches. Approximately 70 cubic meters of sediment were excavated. No archeological resources were identified. The existing ROW has been extensively modified by road construction, dredge and spoil fill, numerous abandoned utilities, and other developmental activities thereby lessening the potential for intact archeological deposits within the APE. The recently acquired new ROW is equally disturbed in a similar manner. Based on the negative results of the survey, TxDOT recommends no further archeological work.
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