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Monday, July 16, 2012 - 11:32am

Bats Latest Hurdle For Hwy. 411

An endangered bat is the latest potential setback for a planned road offering better interstate access to Rome and Cartersville.

The rare animal lives in nearby Gilmer County and also could be living where the highway would go, according to some of the project’s opponents.

“It is likely habitat for the Indiana bat because it contains mature hardwood forest, and to the west and the south, there’s a good deal of development and impervious surface,” said Henry Parkman, an attorney for a family that owns a ranch near the proposed route.

Opponents of Hwy. 411’s proposed route don’t like that it cuts through Dobbins Mountain in Bartow County on its way to I-75, and they argue it threatens a historic manganese mine, the habitat of the Cherokee darter fish, and several endangered plants.

The endangered Indiana bat is their newest ally in the fight against the current proposed route for the road.

The state Department of Transportation is investigating whether the bat lives on the highway’s route.

“We do have something that’s recently been brought to our attention: that is the Indiana bat species,” said DOT spokeswoman Jill Goldberg. “So we are investigating that currently, but everything else, we have completed our documentation on it and we are just waiting for review and final word [from the federal government].”

The U.S. 411 Connector has been in the works for decades as a way to ease traffic and get drivers to the interstate more quickly, but it’s been held up in court.

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