Is a bug worth millions? Beetle could stall traffic plans for San Antonio highway

Is a bug worth millions? Beetle could stall traffic plans for San Antonio highway

Credit: homas C. Barr, Jr. / UTexas.edu

Could saving this critter cost taxpayers $80 million in federal stimulus money and delay an interchange at 281 and 1604?

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by KAREN GRACE/KENS-TV

kvue.com

Posted on May 4, 2010 at 6:16 PM

SAN ANTONIO -- How much is a little critter worth?  Some are asking if it's worth losing millions in stimulus funding and stalling a plan to relieve traffic congestion at 281 and 1604. 

We're talking about a cave beetle that's bugging a lot of people.  Environmentalists are fighting to save it, but at what expense to building a new interchange at 281 and 1604? 

"The species closest to interchange are cave beetles," said Enrique Valdivia, the president of Aquifer Guardians in Urban Areas.  Environmentalists are coming out of the woodwork to spare nine endangered species from being bulldozed when a new $109 million interchange is built at 281 and 1604. 

"The beetle is important because it's endangered and federal law protects it," said Valdiva. "The beetle is basically the guardian of the aquifer, and by protecting the beetle,... we protect the aquifer."

But this beetle could take a bite out of $80 million in federal stimulus funding and stall the opening of a new interchange by October 2012.  That's a delay that the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority says could hurt the environment more. 

"Air quality isn't getting any better when people are stuck in congestion longer. This project helps solve that," said Leroy Alloway, Alamo R.M.A. "That's the benefit and that's what this project can bring.  But we need to get through this lawsuit hurdle."

A 60-day notice is required by law before a lawsuit can be filed. 

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