WV Route 2 is the major north-south transportation corridor in the Upper Panhandle of West Virginia. To improve public safety and efficiency of this roadway, the West Virginia Department of Transportation, Division of Highways (WVDOT) plans to widen WV 2 from two lanes to four, for a distance of 2.5 miles between Follansbee and Weirton. The new roadway will follow its present path, east of the Ohio River, but in an expanded right-of-way.

Between a River and a Hard Place: construction in the right-of-way (ROW) for the proposed upgrade of WV2 will remove a portion of the ridgetop where the East Steubenville site is located (cleared area, right-center).

In planning for the WV 2 upgrade, WVDOT followed the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and other federal laws that require agencies to determine whether a proposed roadway project will affect significant archaeological sites or historic buildings. Advance studies of proposed roadway alignments allow WVDOT to develop the state's transportation network while helping to manage West Virginia's cultural heritage.

In 1999, WVDOT archaeologists confirmed that the East Steubenville site (46Br31), one of the type sites for West Virginia's Panhandle Archaic, was situated within the WV2 project right-of-way (ROW). Testing showed that archeological excavations at this ridgetop site could reveal important new information on the little-known Panhandle Archaic people who inhabited northern West Virginia 4000 years ago. By this measure, the site was historically significant and warranted special consideration.

When studies show that a planned roadway will disturb a significant archaeological site, WVDOT can either try to avoid the site, or excavate a part of the site and recover important information before construction. Because the East Steubenville site could not be protected by redesigning the proposed WV2 roadway, WVDOT and its consultants developed a Data Recovery Plan to excavate the archaeological remains, and to interpret and report on these discoveries.



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