Bats delay E. Main work

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Endangered Indiana bats are living in trees near the site of the future interchange.

An endangered species of bat has delayed construction at the site of the East Main Street interchange project.

Indiana bats are inhabiting large trees around the site of the future interchange, which will be at mile marker 102 on Interstate 55 between Jackson and Cape Girardeau.

Work at the site, expected to begin the first of September, has been put on hold until Oct. 2, said Alan Friedrich, a senior construction inspector for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

"We can't knock down the trees until after this bat leaves," he said.

Bob Gillespie, a natural history biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation, said the Indiana bat inhabit large trees with scaly bark during the summer months. "That's typically where they have their young," he said.

After Sept. 30, Indiana bats hibernate in caves for the winter. "They can be very prevalent in this area, which is why we have to wait until they leave before we can clear the trees," Gillespie said.

The endangered bats have not held up construction work on the East Main Street extension project within Jackson, said public works director Rodney Bollinger. Phase one of the project that will extend East Main Street to the future Interstate 55 is about 80 percent complete.

All that's left is some final grading, storm-water drainage work and the installation of the water distribution line along the roadway, Bollinger said.

Jackson recently awarded a contract for phase two of the project, which includes the concrete paving of the four-lane road and sidewalks. A $558,256 contract was awarded to Kluesner Construction Inc. of Kelso, Mo.

Phase two is expected to be complete at the beginning of next year, Bollinger said.

The entire East Main Street extension project was expected to cost Jackson almost $1.5 million but came in approximately $500,000 under the initial engineers' estimate.

"I am thrilled with the bid tabulation and look forward to the contractor laying down some pavement," Bollinger said.

On the east side of the interstate, Cape Girardeau plans to construct LaSalle Avenue to meet up with East Main Street. A consulting engineer is drawing up plans for the arterial street, which should be complete by June, city engineer Jay Stencil said.

335-6611, extension 246

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