Updated Tue, Nov 20, 2012 10:13 am
U.S. Forest Service and Ohio Department of Transportation officials say they have spent the last five years developing protection measures at Wayne National Forest to preserve wildlife that could be impacted by opening of the Nelsonville bypass.
Since the summer of 2007, at least six preservation efforts have been addressed.
High mass lights have been added to keep bats from interfering with traffic at night.
"This lighting is more expensive to light and also to construct," said Audrey Seals, an ODOT transportation engineer.
Seals said the lights are high off the ground to attract the bats' food source, which is flying insects.
Snake culverts were built to allow snakes to travel underneath the bypass instead of trying to cross the highway.
Fifteen deer jump-outs have been introduced to keep deer from the highway.
A wide bridge, known as the butterfly bridge, was added for a sensitive butterfly found in our region.
A pipeline was adjusted to help move and grow the population of the grizzled butterfly.
A wildlife crossing underpass was also built, which connects habitats fragmented by the new highway. Wayne National Forest says it plans to put in trees around the underpass to make it less threatening for wildlife, as they won't approach the wide open space around the underpass.
These wildlife protection measures increased the cost of building the bypass by millions of dollars, and while much of the cost is paid for by federal stimulus funds, ODOT cooperated heavily with Wayne National Forest to find solutions to preserve animal life.
"You know, it took a lot for ODOT to do this. It cost more money, but it's not only a matter of protecting the wildlife out there, it's also a matter of trying to reduce the deer-vehicle collision rate in Ohio," said Lynda Andrews, a spokesperson for the U.S. Forest Service.
Andrews says extra high fences are the centerpiece for the whole operation and will help reduce those deer-vehicle collisions.
"Their effectiveness is going to be based on the weakest link, and what's really important for these structures to be most effective is the fencing," she said.
She also says these additions have never been used in Ohio before.
One more addition yet to be put in place is an amphibian crossing passageway to connect two fragmented wetlands.