The Case in Favor of a $3 Million Turtle Tunnel

Monday, June 22, 2009
Temporary Turtle Passage (photo: Lakejacksonturltes.org)

Republicans in Congress can complain all they want about how some federal stimulus funds are being spent on so-called frivolous projects, but the Lake Jackson Ecopassage in Florida is not one of them, according to supporters. The project is a $3 million attempt to build a tunnel so that wildlife, mainly thousands of turtles, can safely cross Highway 27 near Tallahassee. It meets the “shovel ready” requisite that President Barack Obama wants for stimulus projects, thanks to the Florida Department of Transportation okaying the project and a private donor purchasing the land needed for a right-of-way.

 
The ecopassage is the brainchild of Matt Aresco, who discovered 10 years ago as a Florida State University graduate student that turtles by the thousands were getting run over by motorists each year along Highway 27, giving it the highest rate of turtle mortality on any road in North America. In addition to turtles, 62 species of reptiles, amphibians and mammals try to cross the road that slices right through Lake Jackson.
 
Supporters point out that building the animal bypass also could make the highway safer for motorists. Across the state 46 people died from 1994-2003 when the automobiles they were traveling in struck wildlife, causing vehicles to veer out of control.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
 
Florida Turtle Tunnel Protects Motorists Too (by Michael Markarian, Huffington Post)

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