BU Student Finds Pieces of History With PennDOT

For Immediate Release

October 19, 2005


BLOOMSBURG— A Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania student landed a summer job with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Although she wasn’t turning a sign or working with heavy equipment, she did help pave the way for future road construction.

Stephanie Roberts, a junior at BU, interned with PennDOT during summer 2005. Roberts worked on future construction sites to find out about the land before construction could start. Most of her work was done on an archeological site in Pike County.

“It was the site of a proposed intersection realignment and, to get clearance for construction, the site must be scoped,” said Roberts, who is majoring in environmental planning and French.

When a proposed construction site is “scoped,” PennDOT’s Environmental/Cultural Resources Unit tries to assess possible impacts that the construction might have on the land and stream quality.

“Many of the sites are bridges over steams that are stocked with trout and other fish, so they look to see how that would be affected,” Roberts said.

Endangered species, plants and animals as well as historical places also are taken into consideration before starting construction.

“Most of the archeological work is given to consultants that PennDOT hires. We work closely with them, but we don’t do much of the excavation,” said Roberts.

While working on the site this summer, Roberts’s group found remnants of a wood mill from the 1800s. They also located arrowheads, charcoal from fire pits and pieces of pottery from Native American settlements.

Roberts also mapped out the lay of the Gravity Railroad in Wayne County. The railroad stretched from Pittston in Luzerne County to Hawley in Wayne County. Roberts first mapped the railroad by hand and then used GIS, Geographical Information Systems, to map it out.

“We don’t want construction to disturb it. We already lost part of it because of some bridge construction so we want to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” said Roberts.

Roberts, who served as an environment intern, learned about the internship opportunity through her sister who also worked with PennDOT.

“Working with PennDOT was a great experience, I got to meet many people in the archaeological field and I got a good feel for the many options that the field offers.

Roberts, a native of Lenoxville, is a graduate of Mountain View Junior Senior High School.

Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 8,000 students and offers 65 bachelor’s, 18 master’s and one doctoral degree.