Grave site discovery delays I-35 expansion project
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Many miles of roadways on the Interstate-35 corridor are currently under construction as part of a huge expansion project.
Some parts of the highway haven't been touched in 60 years, and along one stretch near the town of Troy, crews have made an unexpected discovery.
The Roberts Cemetery has tombstones dating back to the 19th century. When the highway was first built in the 1940s, the right-of-way crossed a corner of the cemetery property that was thought to be unused.
“The cemetery appears to have originally been a rectangle, but when the highway was built, one corner of it was clipped back in, probably the late 40s," TxDOT archeologist Jim Abbott said.
Now, remains from long lost grave sites have been revealed. The project will be on hold for about 30 days while they exhume the remains and attempt to identify them.
"So we did what we could on the margins of the cemetery, and in that process we discovered one unmarked infant burial," Abbott said. "We have someone there that can immediately identify the situation, stop the work, so that we can progress in a more meticulous fashion."
Once they break up the old concrete and remove it, they'll carefully scrape away the top layer of soil to look for additional grave sites.
"They have some documentation, but it only goes back to 1930 or so," Abbott said. "And a lot of times, it's the casket hardware more than anything that will kind of give you an approximate age."
If they can identify the occupants of the grave sites, officials will then give them a respectful re-burial.
"We need to treat these people the right way. That's what we're trying to do,” Abbott said.
If anyone believes they have relatives buried in Roberts Cemetery but don't know the grave site location, TxDOT asks that you call their Waco district office at (254) 867-2705.