Care, accountability when turning hallowed ground

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Contractors are taking extra precaution when they dig up streets in Gettysburg this summer, as part of several multi-million dollar roadway upgrades.

After all, this is historic Gettysburg, and you never know what crews may unearth.

Procedures are in place so that when contractors excavate an unexpected Civil War relic — or even bones — work stops immediately, pending further inspection.

In fact, the state’s Department of Transportation has conducted archaeology studies the last few years in Gettysburg, associated with its various bridge replacements, as well as the US 30 and Route 15 interchange.

PennDOT has contracted out the work on its state-owned roads in Gettysburg: the streetscape improvements on the first block of Steinwehr Avenue and the West Middle Street project. The Steinwehr bid was awarded to Clearwater Construction of Mercer, for $2.046 million, and Valley Quarries for the $1.8 million West Middle Street reconstruction. Currently, Pioneer Construction, of Honesdale, is replacing six blocks worth of outdated pipeline along West Middle Street as part of a $1.056 million Gettysburg Municipal Authority project, before PennDOT moves in and shuts down the entire street for its 56-day project.

According to Ford, an “on-site” inspector is in place for each project, in case relics or artifacts are excavated. The most common-type of 1863 memorabilia uncovered during road work or property renovations include plates, pottery and jewelry, although on rare occasions, human bones have been found. Police are called to the scene, work is put on hold, and crews wait, until a final determination is rendered....

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