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Redwood Falls Gazette - Redwood Falls - MN
  • Archeological discoveries continue to alter plans for road project

  • Redwood County is an area rich in history and culture, and among the most significant areas where preservation efforts have been made is in the area surrounding the old agency – now the Lower Sioux Agency Historic Site which is owned and operated by the Minnesota Historical Society; the challenge for the county is running right through that area....
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  • Redwood County is an area rich in history and culture, and it is the mission of many organizations to preserve that history.
    Among the most significant areas where preservation efforts have been made is in the area surrounding the old agency – now the Lower Sioux Agency Historic Site which is owned and operated by the Minnesota Historical Society.
    The challenge for the county is running right through that area. A county state aid highway runs past the historic site and to make any improvements to CSAH 2 it seems is going to take all of the efforts the county is able to muster.
    The current road runs next to important historical sites, and according to Willy Rabenberg the road is in need of some repair to improve the road itself and to create a safer environment for drivers.
    When it comes to any kind of work in that area there are myriad additional steps necessary, especially as it relates to the history.
    In an effort to try and avoid some of that historic work, which adds significant expense to the project, the county began developing a plan that would have realigned CSAH 2 farther away from the historic site and thereby avoiding the potential archeologically significant area.
    What it recently discovered is the initial realignment plan is not going to work  either for one very good reason. An initial investigation of the site where the road would be realigned has revealed it too is an important part of area history.
    “We did a scrape of the land and found some significant archeological sites,” said Willy Rabenberg, Redwood County highway department engineer, adding there have been up to 22 significant archeological sites discovered in that area.
    Rabenberg said the area where the investigation took place looks to have included some buildings, with some bullets and ceramics also discovered there.
    Even though the land has been farmed for a number of years, the archeological discovery essentially puts the brakes on the plan to realign the road in that area.
    Rabenberg said what he has been told is the area’s connection to the U.S.-Dakota Conflict make the area a significant site not only on the local level but also at the state and even the national historical level.
    There is the potential to clear out the sites and continue forward with the realignment, said Raben-berg, but the issue is there is not way to ensure the sites are completely cleared.
    Due to the fact this is a project using federal dollars, the county must have the support of historic groups.
    Rabenberg, who talked about the project with the Redwood County Board of Commissioners during its meeting Tuesday, said he has met with the tribal council which has an interest in preserving that history.
    Page 2 of 2 - Yet, he added, the council also is interested in getting CSAH 2 widened. So, Rabenberg has come up with a solution he believes can satisfy everyone.
    The new plan would drop the idea of realigning the roadway and rebuilding the road on its current site with the addition of 3,000 feet of cable rail that would create additional safety on the road and would help to keep the historic area more protected from vehicles potentially running into or over them. Yes, he said, that has happened.
    The challenge the county is now facing is getting the plans all completed before April 2014. It must have the project under way by that time to still receive the $1.6 million in federal funds for the project.
    Rabenberg said the county is able to recover the costs it has paid for the archeological work and other efforts with the use of those federal dollars.
    Rabenberg said there is still work left to be done before the project can go out for bids, adding the project must not only be approved by the Minnesota Department of Transportation but also by those state historic groups.
    Rabenberg admitted the project has been challenging, adding he is not likely going to have to deal with a project like this ever again.
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