SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- A federal agency has ruled that a rail improvement project in Springfield, Illinois, won't have to reroute its tracks away from where homes burned during the city's Race Riot of 1908.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis said the Federal Railroad Administration's decision is "critical to moving the Springfield Rail Improvements Project forward to the next phase."

"The Carpenter Street archaeology is an important part of Springfield's history, and it presents an opportunity to share the story of the 1908 race riots and the subsequent formation of the NAACP with the rest of the world. I look forward to working with both the FRA and local stakeholders to ensure construction can move forward and that the artifacts unearthed at this site are preserved to help tell this story."?

Davis and U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood sent a letter to the FRA in November, requesting that the agency allow the project to move forward.

Engineer Jim Moll told The State Journal-Register that the next step is for engineers and community partners to find ways to minimally "disturb" the block-long archaeological site. It's been covered with sand and grass to help preserve it while officials decided how to proceed.

Moll said seven homes, five of which were burned during the riots, and artifacts from a mid-1800s immigrant neighborhood were discovered by crews working on an underpass in 2014.


Information from: The State Journal-Register, http://www.sj-r.com