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Final Report: Intensive Archeological Survey for the Proposed METRO Maintenance of Way Facility, 1507 Keene Street, Harris County, Texas
Texas Historical Commission
The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) proposes to develop approximately 5.2 acres located on the northeast quadrant of the Interstate Highway (IH) 45 and IH 10 interchange within the City of Houston, Harris County, Texas. Initially, the proposed project included the construction of an extensive multi-purpose facility that would house the METRO Police Department, a back-up Emergency Operations Center, and Maintenance of Way (MOW) department. Additionally, an ancillary laydown yard would be located immediately north of the facility. Subsequently, however, the proposed development plan was updated to include MOW facilities only. The proposed MOW facility would serve as an ancillary rail maintenance facility composed of a two-story building, surface parking, stormwater detention, and a laydown yardi Designs for the facility are currently under development.
The proposed project comprises a total acreage of approximately 5.2 acres, including approximately 2.7 acres for the proposed facility and approximately 2.6 acres for an ancillary laydown yard. The archeological area of potential effects (APE) is the entire 5.2-acre footprint of the proposed project. The maximum anticipated depth of impacts within the location for the proposed facility is not yet known but is not anticipated to be deeper than one meter (3.3 feet) in the footprint of the proposed MOW facility. Impacts within the ancillary laydown yard are anticipated to be negligible.
The project is owned by and will be overseen by METRO, a political agency of the State of Texas, rendering the project subject to the Antiquities Code of Texas. Additionally, since the project will be partially funded by Full Funding Grant Agreement North Corridor and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) monies, a federal nexus exists. As a result, compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as amended, is required.
In May 2020, Cox|McLain Environmental Consulting, Inc. (CMEC) conducted an intensive survey augmented by the excavation of trenches within the footprint of the proposed facility. No subsurface testing was conducted within the location for the ancillary laydown yard due to evidence of extensive surface disturbance and the lack of anticipated sub-surface impacts associated with the current project. The fieldwork was carried out over the course of a single field session (approximately 48 person-hours or 6 person-days) under Texas Antiquities Permit #9413 by archeologists Scotty Moore and Amani Bourji of CMEC.
Nine mechanically excavated trenches totaling 44.9 meters (147.3 feet) were placed and investigated. Subsurface investigations revealed the presence of mixed modern materials and historic-age artifacts throughout the APE within a heavily disturbed, and in some places, burned, matrix that extended approximately 1.2 meters (3.9 feet) below the surface. Below this depth, however, three partially intact and in situ cultural features were documented that date to the early twentieth century. These features appear to be related to residential occupation of the Fifth Ward and consisted of a brick-lined cistern, a possible brick/concrete pier, and an in-filled posthole. Sixteen artifacts were identified in association with these features. Based upon the presence of the intact features and artifacts, the investigated area was determined to meet the criteria for archeological sites and was assigned trinomial 41HR1242 by the Texas Archaeological Research Laboratory.
Results of the survey indicate that all aboveground remnants of 41HR1242 within the APE have been demolished and/or displaced, but subsurface features and deposits are still present within the project area. One of these features, the brick-lined cistern, exhibits high vertical and horizontal integrity below a depth of approximately 1.2 meters (3.9 feet) and could contribute to the National Registry of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility of the site under Criterion D (research potential). Moreover, preliminary evidence suggests that some or all of the burned overburden that caps intact features at the site could be the result of the Great Fifth Ward Fire of 1912. As a result, intact features identified within the site may be associated with structures that were destroyed by this fire and may therefore be eligible for inclusion on the NRHP under Criterion A (association with important events).
No cultural materials were collected; therefore, only project records will need to be curated per TAC 26.16 and 26.17. Project records will be curated at the CAS at Texas State University where they will be made permanently available to future researchers.
The Texas Historical Commission concurred with all recommendations on November 2, 2020. The eligibility status of site 41HR1242 remains undetermined.
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