How Ohio Is Keeping Snakes Off The Highway - NBC4: Columbus, Ohio News, Weather, and Sports (WCMH-TV)

How Ohio Is Keeping Snakes Off The Highway

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NELSONVILLE, Ohio -

Within one month the U.S. 33/Nelsonville Bypass will open.

The $200 million project will save drivers about 20 minutes on the trip from Columbus to Athens.

Drivers may notice something off to the side: fencing, which at 8 feet high, won't prevent a deer from getting on the highway, but should deter them.

Drivers may also notice something at the bottom of the fence: snake fence. It's meant to keep Timber Rattlesnakes from crossing onto the highway.

Timber Rattlesnakes are an endangered and protected species, and  they live in the woods around the bypass.

They are very rare, very poisonous, but will rarely bite. In fact, the last Ohio fatality from a timber rattler was in the 1940s.

The fencing is meant to lead the snakes to culverts under the new highway.

"As you see we have the deer fencing, but the width of the mesh would allow for the snake to go through it," said Lynda Andrews with the Wayne National Forest. "Then we have the special fencing at the bottom that prevents snakes from going through, so basically a snake will go up to the fence and just follow the fence 'til it gets to an opening."

There are also deer and bear passes, bat houses for an endangered bat, and even accommodations for a rare butterfly.

The cost to protect the animals: $10 million.

Is it money well spent?

The Ohio Department of Transportation said it is. In fact, in the Wayne National Forest, it's not a choice. They had to make accommodations to protect endangered species.

"The project itself is more than $200 million, and when you look at the regulations, when you put a highway in the middle of a national forest, it's part of the plan. You have to protect wildlife, protect the environment as well as motorists," said Dave Rose with ODOT.

Bottom line? One month from now, if you are driving the Nelsonville bypass, think about what may be underneath your vehicle. After all, you paid for it with taxpayer dollars.

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