The work program for Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) includes routine bridge and culvert construction and maintenance projects across Georgia. Associated with these project types is the potential to affect federal and state protected bats. Activities and associated impacts to protected bats are often similar for GDOT bridge and culvert construction and maintenance projects. There have been recent efforts to standardize the consultation processes for federally listed bats, such as the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Programmatic Biological Opinion in the Range of the Indiana Bat and Northern Long-Eared Bat (USFWS 2018), however, only a limited number of GDOT projects have been able to utilize this programmatic agreement and it doesn’t cover all bats of concern to GDOT. Instead, most of these routine projects complete coordination on a case-by-case basis which can be time-consuming and unpredictable. To address this need, the FHWA, the FWS, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Division (GDNR WRD) and GDOT, in collaboration with Arcadis, Inc. and ICF, Inc. have developed a GDOT-specific programmatic agreement for the assessment of effects related to construction and maintenance activities on bridges, culverts, and roadways for all federally and state protected bats in Georgia. The agreement will take into account species presence, proposed activities and location on the structure, timing of the activity, and avoidance and minimization measures needed to ensure insignificant effects to protected bats. Additionally, the agreement will allow for a predictable set of avoidance and minimization measures to be incorporated into GDOT construction and maintenance contracts. Ultimately, this GDOT-specific programmatic agreement will allow GDOT, FHWA, FWS and GDNR WRD to streamline the environmental review process for most of these routine project types for both federally and state protected bats across the state. In turn, the time and resources saved through this programmatic agreement will allow improved focus and effort on project-specific consultation for more complex projects.
Bridge and Culvert Structures
State-specific Programmatic Agreement