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Intensive Cultural Resources Survey of the Proposed Galveston County Project, Texas City, Galveston County, Texas
Texas Historical Commission
On behalf of Florida Gas Transmission Company, LLC (FGT), EDGE Engineering and Science, LLC (EDGE) has selected Horizon Environmental Services, Inc. (Horizon) to conduct a cultural resources survey and assessment for the proposed Galveston County Project. The project includes a proposed pipeline that will allow the delivery of natural gas to a new delivery point off the FGT mainline. The facilities to be installed include approximately 4.0 kilometers ([km] 2.5 miles) of 30.5-centimeter ([cm]12.0-inch) and 50.8-cm (20.0-inch) lateral piping as well as a measurement and regulation (M&R) station located at the southwest end of the new pipeline, referred to as the Attwater-Topaz M&R station. This portion of the proposed project is located approximately 2.9 km (1.8 miles) northwest of Texas City and crosses State Highway (SH) 146 in Galveston County, Texas. As part of the Galveston County Project, FGT will also be uprating a unit at their existing CS 4 compressor station in Matagorda County, Texas to maintain a sufficient delivery pressure to the proposed Attwater-Topaz M&R station.
In accordance with Section 7(b) of the Natural Gas Act, the project requires Prior Notice authorization to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which will serve as the lead federal agency for the undertaking. Because the undertaking is regulated by FERC, the undertaking falls under the regulations of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, as amended. The Antiquities Code of Texas (ACT) governs proposed undertakings by political subdivisions of the State of Texas and/or projects located on publicly owned lands. Approximately 11.3 hectares (27.8 acres) of the project area are owned by the Gulf Coast Water Authority (GCWA). Since the GCWA is a public entity, this portion of the project falls under the jurisdiction of the ACT. Survey of the GCWA property was carried out under Antiquities Permit No. 9449.
Less than 0.1 hectare (0.2 acres) of additional temporary workspace (ATWS) falls within the State Highway (SH) 146 ROW, which is controlled by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). Since TxDOT is a State agency, survey of this area would also require an Antiquities Permit. However, this area has already been disturbed from road construction and underground utilities. Horizon therefore recommends no additional survey or shovel testing in this ATWS. Horizon sent a letter with this recommendation to the Texas Historical Commission (THC) on June 30, 2020.
Originally, FGT did not define the actual limits of the proposed right-of-way (ROW) for the project. Rather, they elected to wait until after the environmental assessments on larger overall parcels were complete in order to select a route with the least amount of environmental impacts.
As such, the cultural resources survey initially consisted of 100% survey of the entire 203.2 hectares (502.0 acres) that comprise the parcels traversed by the proposed pipeline. After FGT selected a proposed route, Horizon archeologists conducted additional fieldwork to ensure adequate survey coverage within the proposed ROW.
From May 12 to 15, and June 17, 2020, Horizon archeologists Charles E. Bludau, Jr. and Luis Gonzales performed an intensive cultural resources survey of the project area to locate any cultural resources that would potentially be impacted by the proposed undertaking. Horizon’s archeologists traversed the project area on foot and thoroughly inspected the modern ground surface for aboriginal and historic-age cultural resources. The project area consists of an extensive, largely featureless coastal flat. An existing FGT pipeline corridor passes from northeast to southwest through the northern portion of the project area.
In addition to pedestrian walkover, the recently revised 2020 Texas State Minimum Archeological Survey Standards (TSMASS) require at least 50 shovel tests for the first 10.1 hectares (25.0 acres) of a project plus at least one shovel test for every 2.0 hectares (5.0 acres) over the original 10.1 hectares (25.0 acres). This equates to a minimum of 145 shovel tests within the original 203.2-hectare (502.0-acre) project area. Horizon excavated156 shovel tests within this area, thereby exceeding the TSMASS for a project area of this size. The TSMASS require a minimum of 16 shovel tests per mile for projects measuring 30.0 m (98.4 feet) or less in width; this equates to a minimum of 40 shovel tests within the proposed ROW. Horizon exceeded this minimum by excavating 46 shovel tests within the proposed ROW.
Shovel testing typically revealed shallow deposits of hydric, dark gray clay extending from the modern ground surface to depths ranging from 5.0 to 60.0 cm (2.0 to 23.6 inches) below surface, though most shovel tests were terminated at depths of 30.0 to 50.0 cm (11.8 to 19.7 inches) below surface. Shovel testing was capable of penetrating Holocene-age soils with the potential to contain subsurface archeological resources.
No archeological sites or historic-aged structures were recorded within the project area during the survey. A modern cattle corral, constructed with modern lumber, is present in the northeast corner of the project area, south of Skyline Drive. The corral does not appear on any historical topographic maps. It is first visible in a 1981 aerial image, which indicates the corral is not of historic age.
Based on the results of the survey-level investigations documented in this report, no significant cultural resources would be affected by the proposed undertaking. In accordance with 36 CFR 800.4, Horizon has made a reasonable and good faith effort to identify historic properties within the project area. No cultural resources were identified within the project area that meet the criteria for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) under 36 CFR 60.4. Horizon recommends a finding of “no historic properties affected,” and no further archeological work is recommended in connection with the proposed undertaking. However, human burials, both prehistoric and historic, are protected under the Texas Health and Safety Code. In the event that any human remains or burial objects are inadvertently discovered at any point during construction, use, or ongoing maintenance in the project area, even in previously surveyed areas, all work should cease immediately in the vicinity of the inadvertent discovery, and the THC should be notified immediately.
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