HOUSTON (KIAH) – Recent Houston METRO construction projects, including the University bus rapid transit lines and work to improve drainage along Lockwood Drive, led to a shocking discovery in Houston’s Fifth Ward.

According to Mayor Sylvester Turner, 33 graves, and the remains of three people were located under the esplanade of Lockwood. The graves were supposed to be moved to Evergreen Cemetery, the third oldest black cemetery in Houston, by city officials during the expansion of Lockwood Drive in the 1960s.

“You have slaves who were buried in this cemetery. You have residents of Fifth Ward buried here. You have Buffalo soldiers buried here—veterans from World War I buried here. So, a number of notable individuals are buried here,” Mayor Turner said during a press conference Feb. 6.

Turner said he asked METRO to halt construction while the graves are moved to the cemetery’s current location.

Officials added they would work with Project Respect and the state of Texas to follow proper procedure for this historic location and are committed to doing this “the right way” with remembrance, respect, and reflection to ensure that the remains are given a proper re-interment.