San Antonio Mission Trails statewide transportation enhancement project: Volume II, Construction packages 2 and 3: Archaeological testing and monitoring construction of the Mission Trails hike and bike trails, City of San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas
Beginning in October 1998, the Center for Archaeological Research (CAR) at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) provided archival research and archaeological services to the City of San Antonio and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) as part of the Mission Trails Statewide Transportation Enhancement Project. The project was intended to create a hike and bike trail system connecting the five Spanish missions in San Antonio. The trail should provide easier access to the missions for visitors, allow easier access to pleasant places to walk and cycle, and greatly improve the condition of some of the city streets. This is the second and final volume issued by the CAR in the series of reports on the Mission Trails project. It describes the findings from archaeological work associated with Packages 2 and 3 of the five part Construction Package, including archival research, intensive survey, and monitoring of the portion of the Mission Trails project from Mitchell Street near Mission Concepción to Padre Drive at SE Military Drive. Both a "Direct" route, consisting of designated lanes along existing roads, and a "Scenic" route, consisting of new hike and bike trails near the San Antonio River, were included. In addition, new utility lines were placed under some streets, in particular Roosevelt Avenue, and Mission and Mitchell Roads. This report provides a historic background based on archival research for the project area and a detailed description of the intensive survey and monitoring done as part of these two Packages. After preliminary examination of the archives and previous archaeological work (Cox 2000), areas where there was reason to believe that significant cultural resources would be impacted by the project were designated "Areas of Concern". As part of archaeological investigations associated with Package 3, an intensive survey was undertaken in these areas, including shovel testing and backhoe trenching when appropriate, to assess the potential of an adverse impact to significant cultural resources. Shovel testing was conducted at the following locations: (1) Outside the south and west walls of Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo (41BX3), where 50 shovel tests were completed to inspect the proposed route of a new section of hike and bike trail; (2) At the Pyron Homestead (41BX279), where 40 shovel tests were completed to examine the proposed route of an extension of Padre Road; (3) At the Brown Site (41BX241), where eight shovel test were excavated to confirm that no remnant of the previously recorded site was extant; (4) Along the southern edge of Padre Park, where 39 shovel tests were completed to investigate the proposed route of a new section of hike and bike trail. In addition to the shovel testing, three backhoe trenches were dug along the route of a proposed utility line near Mission Road north of the San Antonio River. Undisturbed sediments were located in two trenches, at 140 cmbs and 360 cmbs respectively, but no evidence of cultural deposits was seen. Ten backhoe trenches also were dug along the north bank of the river south of Concepción Park, where they revealed only modern fill. CAR concluded that the project would result in no adverse impact to significant cultural resources in these areas. Finally, in consultation with TxDOT-ENV and the Texas Historical Commission, and in accord with the original Scope of Work and project protocol, archaeological monitoring was conducted in selected parts of the project area. Specifically, monitoring of construction took place in the following locations: (1) Along the footprint of the hike and bike trail on the grounds of Mission San José; (2) On Mission Road where buried utility lines were being replaced; (3) On Roosevelt Avenue where new utility lines were being installed and old utility lines were being replaced. None of the sub-surface investigations located undisturbed cultural deposits. All artifacts collected from the shovel tests were in mixed context. Based on the results of these investigations, CAR recommended that continuation of the construction project would not result in adverse impacts to cultural resources in these areas. This recommendation was accepted by TxDOT-ENV and the Texas Historical Commission (TxDOT-ENV letter dated to THC dated 02-26-2007 with THC concurrence signature dated 03-01-2007). All artifacts and project-associated records are permanently curated at the curation facility of the Center for Archaeological Research.