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FDOT plans to build "mouse crossing tunnels" to protect Perdido Key Beach Mouse
A project to protect the Perdido Key Beach Mouse could end up costing the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority up to a million dollars.
The Florida Department of Transportation is working with U S Fish and Wildlife to build tunnels under Perdido Key Drive.
They'd be installed from the Alabama State line to River Road.
Researchers hope the mice will use the tunnels so they're protected from cars.
The ECUA says it could create a problem for them.
The Florida Department of Transportation wants to build four mouse tunnels under Perdido Key Drive.
Unfortunately, ECUA has water and sewer lines underground in the area. Those will have to be moved.
Sand dunes cover Perdido Key's natural landscape and -- though there's no visible sign of them -- the area is home to an endangered mouse species active only at night.
Liz Watkins captured the elusive critters on camera as part of a 2001 documentary. She says, "The mouse is nocturnal, they're about the size of my thumb. They're way down in the dunes, they build a cave structure under the dunes that's simply amazing."
The documentary focused on how development on the barrier island affects the environment and species.
State road officials say researchers believe the tunnels will lessen the impact on the Beach Mouse.
The project is priced at 100,000 dollars, however, it will cost ECUA much more to make accommodations. The utility company estimates moving water and sewage mains for the tunnels will cost 500,000 to a million dollars.
"It's almost preposterous on the face of it."
"I think we should go ahead with widening the road, and the mouse will be fine."
Watkins agrees it's not worth spending that kind of money to build tunnels for the mice. She would rather just see the island untouched.
"We don't need to bother the land, the mice, the sea oats."
ECUA has contacted the Florida Department of Transportation and US Fish and Wildlife, hoping to discuss alternative sites for the tunnels.
The Florida Department of Transportation hopes to start building the tunnels by early fall.