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Archaeological Investigations Of The Proposed Brooks City Brooks City Base Connection Trail In Southeast San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas
Texas Historical Commission
In October 2017, on behalf of Brooks Development Authority the San Antonio River Authority [SARA] (CLIENT) contracted Raba Kistner Environmental, Inc. (RKEI) to perform an intensive cultural resources survey of the proposed Brooks City Base Connection Trail southeast San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas. The CLIENT proposes to construct a 1,120 feet of a hike and bike trail that will connect Brooks City Base to an existing network of trails adjacent to Mission Reach. The majority of the project area is located on land owned by SARA and includes portions that extends into lands controlled by the City of San Antonio and a portion of right-of-way controlled by the Texas Department of Transportation; however all land will eventually be acquired by SARA. As such the project is subject to review under Antiquities Code of Texas (ACT), as administered by the Texas Historical Commission (THC). Accordingly, investigations were designed to satisfy the requirements of the ACT. All work was conducted in accordance with the Archeological Survey Standards for Texas as set forth by the Council of Texas Archeologists and the Texas Historical Commission under Texas Antiquities Committee Permit Number 8200.
The purpose of the investigations were to identify any surface-exposed or buried cultural deposits within the Area of Potential Effect and, if feasible, access their significance and eligibility for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places (NHRP) and for formal designation as State Antiquities Landmarks (SAL). Investigations included an intensive pedestrian survey coupled with shovel testing along the proposed haul road and the excavation of backhoe trenching within the proposed borrow pit location. The pedestrian survey and shovel testing was conducted on October 16, 2017, while the backhoe trenching activities were conducted on October 18, 2017. Antonio E. Padilla served as the Principal Investigator and Project Archaeologist for the project and was assisted by archaeologists Chris Murray.
A background review revealed that the project area is located within the Mission Parkway National Register District, where several archaeological investigations have been conducted and numerous prehistoric and historic archaeological sites have been recorded. Of the many archaeological sites recorded, only one site (41BX268) falls within the proposed project area. Site 41BX268, also known as the San Juan Acequia, intersects the eastern portion of the project area. During the initial recording of the acequia, the portion within the project area was an earth lined ditch. However, sometime between 1985 and 1995, the project area had been dramatically altered with the creation of a 65-foot-wide drainage easement. During the construction of the drainage easement, an unnamed drainage had been channelized and the acequia had been cement lined.
Investigations of the Area of Potential Effect (APE) consisted of a pedestrian survey coupled with the excavation of eight shovel tests (AP01, AP02, AP04–AP06, and CRM01, CRM04 and CRM05) along two transects and the excavation of four backhoe trenches within the APE. During the pedestrian survey it was observed that a majority of the APE had been impacted by the construction of the drainage easement and construction of the South Presa Street and Southern Pacific Railroad Bridges. Subsurface testing of the APE corroborated what was observed during the survey. Although much of the area had been disturbed an undecorated white earthenware sherd was encountered within CRM01 at a depth of 40 to 50 centimeters (cm) below surface (bs). Three additional shovel tests (AP03, CRM02, and CRM03) were excavated after the recovery of the ceramic sherd; all were negative of cultural material. Due to the disturbed nature of the area where it was encountered and the lack of additional cultural materials, RKEI judge the sherd as an isolated find (IF1).
Excavation of the backhoe trenches occurred on the north and south side of the San Juan Acequia, in areas where impacts were expected to exceed the depth of shovel tests, and in an area where intact soils were encountered. Two backhoe trenches excavated on the north side of the acequia channel revealed that the area had been severely impacted as disturbances were observed to a depth of 6 feet. The backhoe trenches south of the acequia channel revealed intact soils; however no cultural materials were encountered within these two backhoe trenches.
The area in which the acequia channel intersects the APE was examined during the course of the project. Investigations at this location consisted of the excavation of a backhoe trench and shovel test along the artificial berms on the north and south side of the channel. Both excavations revealed that the area had been heavily disturbed. The locations along the acequia channel investigated are where a proposed pedestrian bridge is to be constructed. The footing of the bridge will be located 20 feet from the center of the channel and will reach a depth of 4-feet. These footings will be connected by a 40 foot platform that will cross the channel, avoiding any impacts to the San Juan Acequia.
RKEI has made a good faith effort in identifying cultural resources within the APE. Based on the results of the investigations and the proposed avoidance measures concerning the San Juan Acequia, it is RKEI’s opinion that the proposed undertaking would have NO ADVERSE EFFECT on any properties listed or otherwise eligible for the NRHP. However, should changes be made to the project APE and avoidance measures, further work may be required.
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