A project to rebuild 16 miles of Oklahoma Highway 16 between Okay and Wagoner is being delayed because of its possible effect on a population of endangered bats.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service halted the project to study whether sediment from the job site is affecting water quality near a population of gray bats and reducing the number of insects that serve as the bats' food supply, particularly in wetlands near the project, the Associated Press reports.
An ODOT spokesperson released this statement to 2 Works For You:
"Extensive studies are done prior to any highway construction project to check for potential environmental impacts to areas like wetlands, sensitive species, historic properties, etc. For the SH-16 realignment project in Wagoner County, Gray Bats were noted in the area as part of these preliminary studies. In late 2018, ODOT halted work on the project due to concerns about water flow impacts inside the work zone. An additional environmental assessment was done to ensure there had been no adverse environmental impacts created. This included an additional review of the possible impact to the bats. At this time, the project is expected to start again within the next two months."
ODOT Engineer Chris Wallace told the Muskogee Phoenix that the road project is about 60 percent complete and will take 3 to 4 more months to finish when it restarts. The project includes widening the highway and roadside ditches and deepening the ditches to improve flood control.
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