Department of Transportation

A Day in Archaeology from a Desk in Connecticut

This is my third Day of Archaeology as an archaeologist at the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT).  Honestly, I really tried to find an excuse to get out and do some “field work” so I could impress you all with my exciting job.  However, the truth is most of my work is done from my desk.  Before I begin I do want to put in a plug for CTDOT’s latest publication “Highways to History: The Archaeology of Connecticut’s 18th-Century Lifeways.”  The book has been in such high demand here that our office is currently out of hardcopies.

On to my day – Today I’m preparing for the ADC50 Summer Meeting next week in San Antonio.  ADC50 is the Committee on Historic and Archaeological Preservation in Transportation that’s a part of the larger Transportation Research Board.  My paper, “Public Outreach and the Section 106 Process: A View from the Connecticut Department of Transportation” is part of the electronic symposium, “Then and Now: Perspectives on Effectively Engaging the Public.”  Our papers were submitted early so participants and attendees can read them ahead of time.  Participants will only give a 5 minute presentation, leaving most of the time for discussion.  I’m really excited about this arrangement after attending the latest SAA conference and finding that the forums and panels where discussion took place were far more interesting than the paper sessions.  So I’ve got to read the other papers in the session so I’m well prepared!

Today I’m also working on a project review for a rail bridge in Norwalk over Osborne Avenue (Osborne Ave Bridge).  The rail bridge, built in 1894, is in need of a new superstructure, and the masonry substructure will be rehabilitated.  For all the projects I review I compile current and historic maps to gauge the potential for a project to impact archaeological or historical resources.  The map, created in ArcView GIS, looks like this: CTDOT Review Map.  (The large circles on the right side indicate known archaeological sites.  The symbols are enlarged to prevent specific site locations becoming public knowledge.)  Maps like this are shared with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and involved federal agencies to help determine the effect a project will have on historic properties.  Clearly this project in Norwalk does not have any archaeological sensitivity because of past disturbance.  The soils within the project area are classified as Urban Land.  Replacing a superstructure on a bridge that’s 120 years old may be another matter that I will be discussing with SHPO.

Outside of my paid job today I will be working on a Survey and Planning Grant application for the Friends of the Office of State Archaeology, who are applying for funding from the SHPO to research and record some archaeological sites with the intention of designating them as State Archaeological Preserves.  I am also looking forward to reading all about other archaeologists’ exciting adventures!