Burial plot found near VDOT project

ASHLAND, VA (WWBT) - It's the second time this year that a burial ground has been discovered because of a road project in Hanover County.

VDOT is trying to raise the Lewistown Road Bridge over I-95.

Archeologists are not sure how big this burial site might be and if VDOT's plan would disrupt those buried there.

Right now VDOT is just relieved this burial site was found before asphalt could be laid on top.

Liz Jordan is an archeologist hired by VDOT. She's spent years researching archeological digs and now checks out places all over Virginia before VDOT starts new construction projects.

"I hadn't seen a lot of burial grounds before I started working at VDOT," Jordan said.  "But because of the nature of our work, which is along transportation corridors, where people have lived for, well, centuries, you expect to find these things."

VDOT is working to raise the Lewistown Bridge for taller, commercial trucks. The project isn't scheduled to start until 2015 so VDOT officials are relieved this burial site was found before it was too late.

"We are not in the business of paving over people," she said.  "That's not what we do."

Virginia has a long history and people have not always been buried in large community cemeteries, so historians say there could be many more small burial plots like this one still left to be discovered.

Lee Shepard is an historian at the Virginia Historical Society. He says there are probably graves like this all over Virginia, and it's easy for these sites to be forgotten.

"Things get overgrown," Shepard said.  "Things get knocked over. It's very easy over time for these cemeteries, in a sense, to disappear."

There are at least nine graves in this burial site but archeologists say there could be many more than that.

The Lewistown Bridge project will cost about $21 million.  VDOT says it's too early to say whether this burial site will delay the project.

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