Was this costly eco-passage really necessary?

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Posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 6:09 pm

LEON COUNTY (WTXL) – Two 1 mile-long concrete walls line U.S. 27. Beneath, tunnels connect Lake Jackson and Little Lake Jackson.  This allows turtles and other wildlife to get from Point A to Point B safely.  EJ Stith has lived in the area for the last fifteen years and believes this was an expensive solution to a simple problem, “My thoughts on it is I don't see why they just couldn't put up a chain link fence and tell the east turtles that they can't go to the west lake."

But the Florida Department of Transportation, who was in charge of the project, says that wasn't the best option.  Their spokesperson Ian Satter explains, “The chain-link fence was just found that it would cause too many incidents with wildlife actually getting stuck in a chain link fence. That's why a barrier wall was the preferred alternative." 

Before the installation, animals would cross over the busy road and on their journey could turn into road kill. Bridget Welch, an area resident says the animals deserve this access, “I thought it was a good idea because as far as I can tell, we built a road right through the lake. So, the animals need to be able to get through." 

And so far, there haven't been any reported incidents of animals being killed by motorists since the barrier and eco-passages were installed. However, the project ended up costing $2.5 million. And when it comes to dollars and cents, it still doesn't make sense to Stith, “I mean it's not like it's a Berlin Wall. We're talking about turtles here."

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