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2011 Environmental Excellence Awards

For Excellence in Cultural and Historical Resources

Agencies Awarded:

Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT)

Illinois State Archeological Survey (ISAS)

Project Contributors:

Brad Koldehoff and John Walthall

Thomas Emerson

For Excellence in Cultural and Historical Resources

New Mississippi River Bridge Project

The New Mississippi River Bridge Project, a coordinated effort to construct the first bridge in 40 years that will connect downtown St. Louis, Missouri and southwestern Illinois, demonstrates how collaboration among transportation and preservation stakeholders can ensure that construction projects remain on schedule and on budget while excavations enhance our understanding of historic cultures. Extensive coordination among the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Central Office, IDOT District 8 Collinsville Office, and the Illinois State Archeological Survey (ISAS) began in 2008 when ISAS testing for the New Mississippi River Bridge Project revealed several early-Mississippian dwellings. While preliminary archeological surveys had exposed portions of the Native American civilization in the mid-1990s, it was the work on the New Mississippi River Bridge Project that unearthed historic residential areas and launched one of the largest archeological excavations involving Mississippian culture. To date, archeologists have identified 1,511 prehistoric features dating from AD 1050 to AD 1200 that provide insights into life in this Native American civilization, and help answer why the site was abandoned around AD 1200. When completed in 2014, the $749 million New Mississippi River Bridge will aid in the efficient movement of people, goods, and services throughout the St. Louis region by alleviating congestion on the Poplar Street Bridge (one of only two bridges in the United States to carry three interstates). The New Mississippi River Bridge Project demonstrates a deep commitment to preserving heritage sites while working efficiently to improve our Nation's transportation infrastructure.

Photograph at the archaelogical excavation of a person's hand holding a Native American idol soon after being unearthed
Updated: 11/1/2012
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