Archeological finds set back HT football stadium project
By Lee Weyhrich
Although the Huskies are having a great season in 2012, it looks like they may already be facing problems for the 2013 season. Hewitt-Trussville High School was hoping to have its new stadium built and open before next year’s football season, but complications at the building site are slowing the next phase of the project. The new stadium is to be built near the Trussville Civic Center on Clay-Trussville Road. Due to the project’s location on the Cahaba River, the government requires an archaeological survey before any project can begin.
“From a building standpoint, we have to be very careful what we do,” Trussville Director of Technology and Facilities Shawn Nutting said. “The University of Alabama is actually the archeological overseers contracted by the state to be on site. They have good people. In phase two, they dug pits looking for artifacts.”
According to Nutting, the artifacts that have been found are over 2,000 years old and predate the Cherokee and Creek civilizations, or any known organized civilization. Only a trained archaeologist would be able to identify the often tiny shards.
“This requirement is putting a delay on the project,” Nutting said. “We were hoping to have (the stadium) by the 2013 season. We were hoping to break ground on Nov. 1. Because of these requirements, we are already behind schedule. We have been at this since April.”
The artifacts have been found near a small creek that runs under one of the proposed end zones. Originally, a box culvert or pipe was going to run through the creek and the field would be built on top of it. The Army Corps of Engineers have oversight of any project done near the waterway. Due to the presence of artifacts, the ACOE will not allow the creek to be enclosed until it has been properly secured as an archaeological site.
“They (the ACOE) are saying it will cost $150,000,” Nutting said. “Now we are regrouping and seeing if there is any possibility of using the site by reengineering the process. It is a substantial cost to pay.”
Realigning the field to avoid the creek would be out of the question, as it would put the length of the field facing the sun. According to Nutting, there may be an alternative to closing off the creek.
“We are looking at maybe arching over the waterway rather than using a culvert through it and we are dealing with the Army Corps of Engineers to see if we can scale back on what is required,” Nutting said.
By bridging the creek, the archaeological site would still be accessible. In order to get this idea passed, new drawings will have to be made. Changing the design specifications leads to its own unique set of challenges and there may be a difference in the overall cost of the project.
“As far as re-drawing the plan, there is not a lot of cost, but building a bridge rather than a box culvert will have a difference in cost,” Nutting said. “Whether it is a cheaper or more expensive alternative remains to be seen. I wouldn’t want to speculate.”
The stadium is only part of the project. A bridge is also to be built over the Cahaba, and the road by the high school is to be extended to the area near the civic center. The new road would begin where Husky Parkway ends near the current field house and would extend to the Long Meadow subdivision, Nutting said. The city can not break ground until they meet the ACOE’s requirements and work is being delayed indefinitely.
“It is going to be several weeks at least,” Nutting said. “It is an outstanding project – it is a shame we aren’t moving forward with it. We have a great set of prints, we are just waiting on the Army Corps to move forward.