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Intensive Cultural Resources Survey of the Proposed Bagdad Road at County Road 278 Improvements Project, Williamson County, Texas
Texas Historical Commission
At the request of Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc., and on behalf of Williamson County, Texas, SWCA Environmental Consultants conducted an intensive cultural resources survey of the proposed approximately 4,500-foot-long (1371.6 meters [m]) Bagdad Road (County Road [CR] 279) Improvements Project extending 1,000 feet (304.8 m) north and south of CR 278 and 2,500 feet (762.0 m) west-southwest of CR 278 in western Williamson County, Texas. The project area is located between the communities of Liberty Hill and Leander along the intersection of CR 279, also known as Bagdad Road, and CR 278. Since the project involves lands that will be acquired and controlled by Williamson County (a subdivision of the State of Texas), the project is subject to review under the Antiquities Code of Texas (ACT). SWCA conducted the investigations under Texas Antiquities Permit No. 8044.
The proposed project will involve improvements to the existing Bagdad Road and CR 278 intersection and the construction of new roadway (to be called “River Ranch County Park Road”) west-southwest of the intersection, to allow access to the River Ranch County Park. The planned improvements will be located along the existing Bagdad Road from 1,000 feet (304.8 m) north and south of CR 278. The planned new roadway will extend 2,500 feet (762.0 m) west-southwest of the Bagdad Road and CR 278 intersection to the southeastern edge of River Ranch County Park. Overall, the direct area of potential effects (APE) encompasses approximately 13.8 acres (5.6 hectares [ha]), composed of a 4,500-foot-long (1371.6 m) and approximately 25- to 70-foot (7.6- to 21.3-m) wide proposed right-of-way. The depth of impacts is anticipated to extend 3 to 4 feet (0.9 to 2.2 m) below ground surface for roadway construction and up to 10 feet (3.1 m) for culverts.
Investigations included a background and historic map review, and an intensive pedestrian survey with shovel testing of the proposed APE. The background review determined that no previously conducted cultural resources investigations and no previously recorded archaeological sites are located within the direct APE. One cultural resources testing project and eight previously recorded archaeological sites are located within a 1-mile radius of the project area. The review of maps on the Texas Department of Transportation Historic Overlay, U.S. Geological Survey TopoView, and Historic Maps revealed one possible historic-age structure adjacent to the APE.
The field investigations included extensive visual inspection and intensive pedestrian survey with shovel testing throughout the APE. The investigations revealed the APE is along the existing county roads and within the undeveloped land and residential development that surrounds the roadways. The undeveloped land consists of rocky uplands with exposed limestone bedrock, cobbles, and gravels along the ground surface. Previous and current impacts to the area include clearing and grading activities, construction of existing roads and driveways, associated infrastructure installation, impervious cover, gravel filled areas, residential development, and overhead and buried utility installations particularly along and immediately adjacent to the roadways. SWCA excavated a total of 15 shovel tests within the APE, which revealed shallow soils atop of bedrock. SWCA’s investigations exceeded the Texas Historical Commission’s requirements and identified no prehistoric or historic cultural materials within the APE. One historic-age standing structure was identified during the historic map review and field investigations immediately adjacent to the APE located on the southeast corner of the intersection of Bagdad Road and CR 278. An SWCA architectural historian evaluated the structure and determined that based on historic aerials the date of construction is circa 1940, but that while it is historic age it lacks integrity and is recommended as NOT ELIGIBLE for the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).
In accordance with the ACT and 36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 800.4, SWCA made a reasonable and good faith effort to identify cultural resources within the direct APE. As no archaeological sites were identified that may meet the criteria for designation as a State Antiquities Landmark, per 13 Texas Administrative Code 26.12, or standing structures for listing on the NRHP, according to 36 CFR 60.4, SWCA recommends that no further cultural resources investigations are warranted within the surveyed portions of the APE and that a determination of No Historic Properties Affected be granted for the proposed project.
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