The Survey at Beal Street and Michigan Ave
You may have noticed a large amount of construction going on around Beal Street and Michigan Avenue, in fact there are three different construction projects going on. Two of these have already begun around the Beal Street Entrance to campus, and are of major interest to Campus Archaeology Program in order to protect materials of potential cultural heritage. The first is MDOT’s reconstruction of Michigan Ave between East Grand River and Harrison Roads. The second is the West Circle steam distribution repair, which is in its second year of construction. It was because of the MDOT project that we were on site Thursday early morning for a preliminary survey to determine whether CAP needs to intervene further.
This project, which can be found on MDOT’s website, is aimed at reconstructing the intersection between Michigan Ave and East Grand River Road. The goals are to resurface approximately 4 miles of pavement, upgrade the signals in this area, and improve the intersections. The project officially began on March 11th, and is expected to continue until October. The roadways will continue to be accessible throughout with at least one available lane. One portion of this involves the reconstruction of the intersection between the Beal Street entrance to campus and Michigan Ave. This involves turning a green space into a roadway, which Campus Archaeology decided required investigation.
We arrived on site at the Beal Street Entrance to campus ready to survey the green space and sidewalks near the current phase of construction with shovel tests and screening. The survey consisted of a number of shovel tests in 5 meter intervals. Our historical research did not reveal any specific historic use of the area. This initial survey supported the research, and did not indicate that this property would have been used extensively. No historic artifacts were found, and it appeared that the soil had been highly disturbed. We know this because the stratigraphy was clean brown silty soil with no inclusions, suggesting it was fill. We also assessed the current state of the construction project to get an idea of their progress and observe their methodology.
We will continue to update our readers on surveys and digs for these projects as they continue in the summer and through the remainder of the year. We are committed to maintaining a presence to ensure any important cultural materials are not destroyed and our cultural heritage is preserved.