JEFFERSONVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Georgia transportation officials are in the works to add half a dozen wildlife tunnels under a Middle Georgia highway, as part of a first of its kind project for the state.
GDOT is widening State Road 96 in Houston and Twiggs counties from two lanes to four lanes. Its also adding six wildlife tunnels and fencing along the highway between the Ocmulgee River and State Road 87 in Twiggs County.
The idea is to funnel the bears and other animals to these tunnels so they can cross under the highway safely.
Wildlife officials say they're doing this because SR 96 ranks second in the number of bear and car crashes on Middle Georgia highways.
"Hopefully we won't have anymore car collisions or injuries or accidents on that stretch of highway as far as wildlife and motorists," Bobby Bond, a wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, said. "We've had several accidents over the past few years and hopefully that will stop that."
Over the last 10 years, there have been 67 bear and car collisions in Middle Georgia. Since spring 2012, there have been three bears hit on SR 96.
GDOT expects the entire project to cost $61 million. Transportation officials are still in the works of buying land and construction is scheduled to begin in November of 2015.