Archaeologists Concerned With Train Project's Impact in Miami

Pieces of the past that are hundreds of years old could derail one of Florida's big future projects.

Archaeologists said the high-speed All Aboard Florida rail would run through one of South Florida's most historic areas.

Archaeologists have known for decades the remains of a large village are protected underground right along train tracks in Miami, so they were shocked to see railroad crews conducting an unsupervised project, laying a fiber optic line right through an extremely sensitive area.

Heavy equipment is great for digging trenches and ditches, but it's a death sentence for a delicate archaeological site.

"All that weight crushes and destroys things. These artifacts are a couple of thousand years old and they just can't take the weight of multi-ton machinery," Archaeologist Ed Barberio explained.

The digging has jumbled things up and left artifacts exposed on the surface.

In just a couple of days, Barberio has found about a dozen examples of Tequesta Indian handiwork. The people used resources from the river and Biscayne Bay to survive.

By mixing the lower level soil up with the top level, the work crews literally upended history. Barberio said it's like blowing up a completed jigsaw puzzle.

"It's a real shame. We might've had a significant artifact here and now we've just got small pieces," Barberio explained, showing pieces of what may have been a bowl at one point.

Why haven't they excavated the site? Barberio said whenever they think human remains might be present, they leave Tequesta sites alone.

"It's very upsetting. This is our culture, this is history, and there are right ways to do this. It's not that the project would have to stop, but it should be done properly," Barberio said.

He said having an archaeology team monitor the work would only delay the project by a few days.

The City of Miami released the following statement:

"The subject area is part of a larger context where archaeological monitoring may need to occur. We are working with the property owner to identify the appropriate jurisdiction as well as mechanism for such reviews to take place in a timely manner. The property owner has an archaeologist on their team who will be working with the City and other agencies as appropriate."

All Aboard Florida released the following statement:

"We have the proper permissions for the project from the Federal Railroad Administration and the environment assessment that clearly indicated that there is no significant impact to the environment from the project."

For information from the Federal Railroad Administration on the project, click here.

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