Texas Historical Commission
On behalf of the Texas Department of Transportation, SWCA Environmental Consultants (SWCA) conducted an intensive cultural resources survey with systematic shovel testing and mechanical trenching from July 13-14 and 18-20, 2017 of 266 acres of new right-of-way (ROW) along State Highway (SH) 31 in Navarro County, Texas. Because the project will receive funding from the Federal Highways Administration, it qualifies as an undertaking as defined in Title 36 Code of Federal Regulations Part 800.16(y) and, therefore, survey was conducted in compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (54 U.S. Code 306108). Furthermore, the project must also comply with the Antiquities Code of Texas (9 Natural Resources Code 191). Jon Budd served as Principal Investigator under Texas Antiquities Permit No. 8081.
The area of potential effects (APE) is defined as the typical 400 to 1200-foot-wide new ROW for a length of approximately 14 miles. The depth of impacts is estimated to be up to 50 feet below the current ground surface for bridge and overpass supports and up to 12 feet for the remainder of the project. The total project covers approximately 800 acres, but most of this has been previously surveyed. The survey area comprises 266 acres (the previously unsurveyed areas) within the total 800-acre project area.
A background literature review determined that portions of the APE have been previously surveyed for cultural resources, and nine archeological sites are within the APE (Table 1) (Texas Historical Commission [THC] 2017a). However, only two of the nine sites within the total APE (41NV48 and 41NV681) are located within the current survey areas reported herein. In addition, numerous previously conducted cultural resources surveys, four archeological sites, and a single cemetery are mapped within a 0.6-mile (1-kilometer [km]) radius of the APE (THC 2017).
The survey identified substantial disturbances within the APE, including ongoing construction, prior infrastructure development such as utilities and roads, and a variety of other land use practices. SWCA conducted a pedestrian inspection, augmented with the excavations of 71 shovel tests and 23 mechanical trenches, across the entire 266-acre survey area within the proposed ROW. The survey identified a total of six, factory-made bricks and brick fragments in the heavily disturbed existing Interstate Highway 45 ROW. No indications of 41NV48 or 41NV 681 were identified within the APE. SWCA recommends a finding of “no historic properties affected” and no further archeological investigations.
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