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Authors

Scotty Moore

Agency

Texas Historical Commission

Abstract

The Texas Department of Transportation proposes to widen United States Highway (US) 79 from approximately 0.3 miles (0.5 kilometers) west of Interstate Highway (IH) 45 to approximately 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) west of Farm-to-Market Road (FM) 1512 in Leon County, Texas. The project extends from the town of Buffalo to just west of the town of Jewett. Proposed improvements include the widening of the existing two-lane US 79 roadway to a four-lane divided highway.

The proposed project is approximately 10.3 miles (16.6 kilometers) long and has a typical width of roughly 200 to 315 feet (61.0 to 96.0 meters), covering a total of 366.29 acres. The proposed project’s overall acreage includes 138.13 acres of existing right-of-way, 219.56 acres of proposed new right-of-way, 8.33 acres of proposed temporary construction license or temporary drainage easements, and 2.06 acres of proposed detention ponds. This project’s archeological area of potential effect (APE) is defined as the 366.29-acre overall footprint of proposed improvements. Maximum depth of impacts is expected to be less than 3.28 feet (1 meter) across the majority of APE, with deeper impacts expected at drainage crossings. The deepest impacts are expected adjacent to Tape Creek (approximately 13.0 feet [4.0 meters] and within two proposed detention pond locations (anticipated depth currently unknown).

In March 2020, an intensive archeological survey was completed in order to inventory and evaluate archeological resources within the footprint of the proposed project to support compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act, as amended and the Antiquities Code of Texas. Survey was conducted within all existing right-of-way (138.13 acres) and within all parcels for which right-of-entry was given (approximately 102.84 acres). Many properties for which access was denied or for which there was no response to an access request were examined from adjacent properties or the current right-of-way. In all, 226 shovel test units and one backhoe trench were excavated within the APE; none of these excavations uncovered archeological materials of any age.

One new archeological site, 41LN525, one isolated locality, and two isolated finds were recorded on the ground surface; none were associated with buried cultural resources. Field Site 01 lacks association with important people or events and lacks research potential; as a result, it is recommended ineligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. The isolated locality and isolated finds are, by definition, ineligible for inclusion on the National Register.

For areas and parcels covered by survey or cleared from adjacent parcels, CMEC recommends that no further archeological investigations are warranted prior to construction activities. However, CMEC recommends that archeological survey be conducted across all portions of the proposed APE that were not subjected to survey or cleared from adjacent parcels, which cover an approximate total of 125.05 acres.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) proposes to widen United States Highway (US) 79 from approximately 0.3 miles (0.5 kilometers) west of Interstate Highway (IH) 45 to approximately 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) west of Farm-to-Market Road (FM) 1512 in Leon County, Texas.

The proposed project is approximately 10.3 miles (16.6 kilometers) long and has a typical width of roughly 200 to 315 feet (61.0 to 96.0 meters), covering a total of 366.29 acres. This project’s archeological area of potential effect (APE) is defined as the entire 366.29-acre overall footprint of proposed improvements. The proposed project’s overall acreage includes 138.13 acres of existing right-of-way, 219.56 acres of proposed new right-of-way, 8.33 acres of proposed temporary construction license or temporary drainage easements, and 2.06 acres of proposed detention ponds. Maximum depth of impacts is expected to be less than 3.28 feet (1 meter) across the majority of APE, with deeper impacts expected at drainage crossings. The deepest impacts are expected adjacent to Tape Creek (approximately 13.0 feet [4.0 meters] and within two proposed detention pond locations (anticipated depth currently unknown).

On March 9–13, 2020, an intensive archeological survey was completed in order to inventory and evaluate archeological resources within the footprint of proposed project to support compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act, as amended and the Antiquities Code of Texas. The fieldwork was carried out under Texas Antiquities Permit 9288 by Scotty Moore (Principal Investigator), Austin Blase, and Dietrich Geitz of Cox|McLain Environmental Consulting, Inc. (CMEC).

Survey was conducted within all existing right-of-way locations (138.13 acres) and within all parcels for which right-of-entry was given (approximately 102.84 acres). Many properties for which access was denied or for which there was no response to an access request were examined from adjacent properties or the current right-of-way. In all, 226 shovel test units and one backhoe trench were excavated within the APE; none of these excavations uncovered archeological materials of any age.

Much of the APE was determined to have been disturbed by construction and maintenance of the existing US 79 roadway and associated driveways, buried utilities, commercial and residential development, and water management features. These disturbances have greatly reduced the potential for intact archeological deposits throughout the APE.

However, CMEC recommends that archeological survey be conducted across all portions of the proposed APE that were not subjected to survey (approximately 125.05 acres) due to lack of entry. If conditions allow and nearby soils are of sufficient depth, mechanical trenching at any currently inaccessible drainage crossings bounded by Holocene-age alluvium deeper than one meter (3.2 feet) should be undertaken.

One new archeological site, one isolated locality, and two isolated finds were recorded on the APE’s ground surface during the survey; however, no artifacts were collected. Therefore, only project records will need to be curated per TAC 26.16 and 26.17. Project records will be permanently housed at the Center for Archaeological Studies at Texas State University.

If any unanticipated cultural materials or deposits are found at any stage of clearing, preparation, or construction, the work should cease in that area and TxDOT personnel should be notified immediately. During evaluation of any unanticipated finds and coordination between TxDOT and the Texas Historical Commission, clearing, preparation, and/or construction could continue in any other areas along the corridor where no such deposits or materials are observed.

The Texas Historical Commission concurred with all recommendations on May 18, 2020.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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