By Wayne Allen
According to officials close to the Southern Ohio Veterans Memorial Highway (State Route 823) project, the migration of the Indiana Bat and the Northern Long Eared Bat have recently occurred and construction crews have moved in.
According to the Portsmouth Project Press, a newsletter outlining the progress of the project, “the Indiana Bat is a small flying mammal weighing one quarter of an ounce with a wing span between 9 and 11 inches. Typically these bats are found in the eastern region of the United States.” At one point the Indiana Bat was listed as endangered, due to people disturbing hibernating bats, which resulted in the death of a large number of the bats. In the largest hibernation caves these bats have numbered between 20,000 and 50,000 bats.
The Indiana Bat and Long Eared Bat are believed to reside within what will be the right of way for State Route 823.
Because the bats could not be disturbed contractors with the project could not disturb 80 percent of the construction site.
The bats began migration in late August, and on Oct. 1 construction crews moved into the area. Earlier this week an open house was held to update those in attendance on the blasting schedule and safety precautions, associated with the project. Over the course of construction an estimated 20 million cubic yards of dirt will be excavated.
According to Portsmouth Project Press, half of the 20 million cubic yards of dirt appears as rock that requires high velocity “encouragement” to move. The amount of dirt excavated over the course of the project would fill the Empire State Building in New York City 14.5 times.
Once constructed the project will be a 16-mile, limited access, four-lane highway that will bypass about 26 miles of U.S. 52 and U.S. 23 in Portsmouth. Once completed, ODOT estimates it will reduce travel time by 16 minutes compared to the alternative routes in the area.
A Facebook account has been established to track progress of construction and other events. The account can be found under Southern Ohio Veterans Memorial Highway.
For project developments visit www.pgg823.com.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT