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Intensive Archeological Survey for Proposed Improvements to Farm-to-Market Road 664 from Interstate Highway 35E to Interstate Highway 45, Ellis County, Texas
Texas Historical Commission
On March 21, 22, and 28, 2019, an intensive archeological survey was completed in order to inventory and evaluate archeological resources within the footprint of proposed Farm-to-Market Road (FM) 664 roadway improvements from Interstate Highway 35E to Interstate Highway 45 in Ellis County, Texas. The project is identified under Texas Department of Transportation control-section-job number 1051- 01-051. The work associated with this archeological survey was carried out under Texas Antiquities Permit 8817 by Brett Lang (Project Archeologist) and Melissa M Green (Principal Investigator) of Cox|McLain Environmental Consulting, Inc.
No archeological sites were recorded during the survey. Results of the survey show that a majority of the project corridor has been highly disturbed from modern residential and commercial development, bulldozing associated with the original roadway construction, installation and repair of buried utilities, and natural impacts such as erosion.
The area of potential effects comprises 187.4 acres of existing right-of-way, 164.5 acres of proposed right-of-way, and 7.9 acres of permanent easements for a total of 359.8 acres. The bulk of the 359.8- acre footprint was surveyed via visual examination and photography due to extensive previous disturbance, including previous bulldozing associated with the original roadway construction along FM 664, urban expansion, and Hybrid Potential Archeological Liability Map data indicating lack of archeological potential. Of the 164.5 acres of proposed right-of-way and permanent easements 83.9 acres were not pedestrian surveyed due to existing disturbances from residential/commercial activities, agricultural practices, cattle grazing and based on HPALM data, but were recorded through photography. Access was only allowed on 59.1 of the 164.5 acres, leaving 21.5 acres with no access at the time of this survey. A total of 338.3 acres were investigated (pedestrian surveyed and/or photographed only) during this survey.
On the 59.1 acres where access was allowed, 40 shovel test units were excavated where right-of-way was granted; survey was not conducted in areas that were physically inaccessible, previously developed, or in standing water. Soils were found to be shallow (generally extending to 40 centimeters below the surface); clay was encountered on the surface and subsurface in most of the shovel tests. All of the shovel tests were sterile and lacked any cultural material.
Four backhoe trenches were excavated on the west banks of a tributary of Long Branch Creek on the flood plain, first terrace, and second terrace. The backhoe trenches lacked cultural materials and showed no evidence of buried soils within the undertaking’s area of potential effects. Access was not available to the west bank of Bear Creek; this area will require trenching once right-of-entry is obtained. Backhoe trenching will not be advantageous in other areas along Bear Creek, Long Branch Creek, or the tributary to Long Branch Creek due to steep slopes and/or locations outside the current area of potential effects.
No further work is recommended in the 338.3 acres of the area of potential effects that were investigated/surveyed at this time. When access is available for the 21.5 remaining acres recommended for archeological survey, additional survey, including backhoe trenching near Bear Creek, is warranted. If any unanticipated cultural materials or deposits are found at any stage of clearing, preparation, or construction, the work should cease, and the Texas Department of Transportation should be immediately notified.
All materials (notes, photographs, administrative documents, and other project data) generated from this work will be housed at the Center for Archaeological Studies at Texas State University, where they will be made permanently available to future researchers per 13 Texas Administrative Code 26.16– 17. No artifacts were collected; therefore, none will be curated.
The Texas Historical Commission concurred with the findings and recommendations of this report on April 10, 2019.
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