UDOT has partnered with the local governments to connect existing local roads to the Southern Parkway while laying the framework for the future parkway segments. Data recovery efforts for protection of culturally sensitive sites and natural resources are also ongoing.
The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) has successfully completed archaeological fieldwork on a portion of Southern Utah’s newest roadway. Archeologists have methodically exposed five Virgin Anasazi (Ancestral Puebloan) habitations at one of the sites located within the corridor of state Route 7 Southern Parkway, including one that may have been built as early as two thousand years ago.
Eric Hansen, Dixie Division Environmental Specialist, said “Due to the high number and nature of sensitive sites in the area, UDOT realigned a portion of the Southern Parkway five times to avoid major sites.” Archaeologists continue to monitor roadway construction on each segment, he said.
Hansen is one of UDOT’s eight Archaeology Environmental Policy specialists assigned to manage private archaeological firms hired for transportation projects and ensuring UDOT complies with state and federal laws for archaeology sites and other natural resources.
Utah tribal leaders have reviewed and approved UDOT’s approach to the current excavation along the parkway. UDOT initiated tribal involvement for the Southern Parkway project over a decade ago, when environmental studies began. The Hopi and Paiute Indian Tribes of Utah and the local Shivwits Paiute Band are consulted on all project developments that could potentially impact archaeological sites. One member of the Shivwits Paiute Band is a full-time member of the project’s archaeological team.
State Route 7 - Southern Parkway currently carries motorists east from I-15 near the Arizona border to the new St. George airport. Future construction, which is expected to begin this fall, will provide a belt route back to I-15 north of the airport, connecting the cities of Washington and Hurricane.