Discovery of extremely rare spider halts highway construction project
POSTED: Saturday, September 22, 2012 - 12:00pm
UPDATED: Saturday, September 22, 2012 - 12:04pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — A road project along Texas' Highway 151 was progressing on time until along came a spider that shut everything down.
The $15 million road expansion plan to construct an underpass has been halted indefinitely as researchers learn more about the Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver.
The Texas Department of Transportation is working with biologists to protect any endangered species in the construction area.
About two week ago rain uncovered a six to eight foot deep hole where the spider was discovered.
TxDot's Josh Donat said this is only the second time in 30 years the rare species has been seen.
“We're excited about what we can learn from it and there's the likelihood that there is more in there,” he added.
The spider is not known to be venomous to humans, but the construction delay could cause major headaches for drivers.
Frustration with stalled traffic is what led TxDot to the area hoping to free up some traffic congestion with the underpass.
"In the meantime, we are working on a modified plan to get this accomplished," Donat insisted.
The $15 million road widening project started in April and was supposed to wrap up next fall.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must decide how the area will be impacted by the discovery of the Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver.
"This isn't costing us anything extra. It's just an all out pause," said the TxDot spokesman.
The Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver was added to the endangered species list in 2000.
Although it is a very rare find, the meshweaver will be dissected at Texas Tech University so researchers to learn more about the arachnid and determine how it fits into the ecosystem.
There are several areas blocked off at the construction site, indicating other holes might lead to more scientific finds.