|22 July 2007
Ancient relics in path of highway in Arizona
Ancient Native American artifacts likely are buried under the path of the proposed South Mountain Freeway (Arizona, USA), Phoenix's lead archaeologist and freeway planners agree. Construction crews won't be allowed to encase the ruins in asphalt; "That's an old saw," said Todd Bostwick, who has studied the Hohokam people for more than 25 years. "They (crews) have to dig them now." Bostwick said he is virtually sure of Hohokam villages along the proposed 22-mile path for the South Mountain Freeway.
Rock art known as petroglyphs are widespread throughout the South Mountain area, leaving Bostwick little doubt that pre-historic Hohokam people settled in the area as early as 300 years before the birth of Christ. In 1973, crews building the Superstition Freeway (now U.S. 60) unearthed Hohokam pottery shards, remnants of an extensive irrigation system and other relics east of Rural Road along the highway's path. The discovery prompted the federal government to halt construction to allow archeologists time to excavate and document the discovery. Ultimately, the federal government allowed the freeway to be built - but at ground level along that portion rather than below, as originally planned.
Bostwick, who has studied the ancient Hohokam people for more than 25 years, said that thinking is outdated and that a Phoenix historic preservation ordinance would prevent the same thing from happening today. "That wouldn't pass for the South Mountain Freeway," he said. "Nowadays, you have a couple of issues: The state is very strict about doing archeology, and the city of Phoenix (ordinance)." A report provided to a freeway advisory group of residents indicates that all seven of the alternative alignments for the South Mountain Freeway 'would impact prehistoric and historic cultural resources.' A final decision over whether to build the 10-lane Freeway hasn't been made. ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration are working on a required draft environmental impact statement that is expected to be released next year.
Sources: The Arizona Repulic, Tucosn Citizen (19 July 2007)
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