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Archaeological Survey for the State Highway 36 Expansion Project in Austin and Fort Bend Counties, Texas
Texas Historical Commission
In June 2015, HRA Gray & Pape, LLC., of Houston, Texas, at the request of HNTB Corporation, conducted intensive pedestrian archaeological investigations within approximately 24 kilometers (14.7 miles) of property proposed for the expansion of the State Highway 36 corridor between Highway 90 and Farm-to-Market Road 1952 in Fort Bend and Austin Counties, Texas. The Texas Department of Transportation has been identified as the Lead Agency for this project. Work for this project will be completed as part of the Texas Department of Transportation Project CSJ Numbers 0187-05-049 and 0187- 04-029 by the Houston and Yoakum Districts.
The goals of the survey were to determine if the initiation of this project would affect any previously identified historic properties as defined by Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended (36 CFR 800), and to establish whether or not previously unidentified archaeological resources were located within the project’s Area of Potential Effects. All fieldwork and reporting activities were completed with reference to state (Antiquities Code of Texas) and federal (National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended [36 CFR 800]) guidelines, and according to standards set forth by the Texas Department of Transportation Programmatic Agreement for Enhancement Projects. All research and reporting for this project was completed with reference to Texas Department of Transportation’s current Standards of Uniformity for Technical Reports with regard to Review Standards for Archaeological Survey and Reporting (Texas Department of Transportation 2011; version 3).
The Area of Potential Effects for this project is defined as the project length, the existing and proposed right-of-way, and the depth of construction impacts, composed of a total of 123.5 hectares (305.2 acres). Of this, the existing right-of-way subsumes a total of 107 hectares (264 acres), while new proposed right-of-way will comprise the remaining 16.7 hectares (41.20 acres). The total area to be subjected to archaeological survey within the Area of Potential Effects is 16.7 hectares (41.20 acres), comprised of all property proposed as new right-of-way on the south side of State Highway 36. Of the 16.7 hectares (41.20 acres) of new right-of-way, right-of-entry was not provided for approximately 10.8 hectares (26.8 acres). These parcels were subjected to a desktop assessment. Although the depth of impact is unknown, belowground impacts are expected to be typical of road construction activities, impacting up to 1 meter (3 feet) below natural grade. The Area of Potential Effects depth may extend to culturally sterile depths across the project right-of-way. More often the project will entail the building up of material from the existing ground surface. No deep impacts are anticipated within the project area.
The intensive pedestrian and reconnaissance surveys completed for the service areas discussed in this report took place on easements belonging to the Texas Department of Transportation and privately-owned property. Right-of-entry was obtained by the client for privately owned land. Work conducted to complete this survey was conducted under Texas Antiquities Permit number 6609, issued by the Texas Historical Commission’s Division of Archeology in July 2013
No new or previously identified archaeological sites were recorded during the investigation. Testing results displayed soil profiles indicative of those that are mapped for the area and gave no indication of buried cultural horizons within the proposed depth of the Area of Potential Effects. Based on the negative results of the intensive pedestrian survey, HRA Gray & Pape, LLC. recommends no further work and that the project be allowed to proceed as planned.
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