Eyeless spider forces TxDOT back to the drawing board

| November 4, 2014

Biologist Jean Krejca inspects a Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver habitat | Photo: San Antonio Express

Biologist Jean Krejca inspects a Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver habitat | Photo: San Antonio Express

 

Two years ago the Texas Department of Transportation was forced to halt highway construction project when an endangered, eyeless spider habitat was found at the site. Now TxDOT finally has a solution…

The original plan was to build an underpass connecting Loop 1604 and Texas 151 on the Northwest Side. But constructing this would have required a lot excavation which may have disturbed the underground karst, or cave, where karst invertebrates such as the spider was found in late August 2012.

This spider is said to be identical to the Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver. | Photo: Zara Environmental LLC

This spider is said to be identical to the Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver. | Photo: Zara Environmental LLC

 

The spider, which is just about the size of a dime, is called the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver. It was added to the federal protection list in 2000. The extremely rare arachnid had only been seen once before, in Northwest Bexar County about 5 miles from the construction site.

TxDOT will now construct an overpass instead because the amount of excavation will be much more limited. Unfortunately, the overpass will cost $44 million, almost three times as much as the original underpass project would have.

The overpass will join southbound Loop 1604 to eastbound Texas 151. The Loop 1604 direct connector will travel over the loop and 151 main lanes, so drivers headed in that direction no longer have to stop at a traffic light.

Construction of the overpass will likely start in the Spring of 2015. The project will take around 18 to 24 months.

Endangered species halting construction projects are not unheard of. Not too long ago, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation was forced to halt a bridge project after discovering an endangered fish habitat.

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