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Archeological find halts proposed road improvement project

January 6, 2021 GMT

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (AP) — The discovery of Native American artifacts that appear thousands of years old has prompted Massachusetts officials to pump the brakes on a planned road improvement project.

The state Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs said Tuesday that a traffic roundabout proposed in Northampton has been pulled from the state’s Environmental Policy Act review without prejudice, the the Republican newspaper of Springfield reported.

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The agency said the state Department of Transportation will conduct public outreach in response to an outpouring of comments during the review process. Energy officials say the transportation agency eventually intends to re-submit its proposal.

The more than $3 million project was slated to start last summer, but tens of thousands of people signed a petition calling for the site’s preservation.

Archaeologists hired by the state to survey the site before construction uncovered stone blades, tools and other evidence of an ancient human settlement in 2019.

A local property owner has also sued seeking to stop the project, which supporters say will improve traffic and pedestrian travel.