JEFFERSONVILLE — A species of small, nocturnal mammals will have a designated protected area thanks to a construction project slicing through the River Ridge Commerce Center.

At its Tuesday meeting the River Ridge Development Authority Board unanimously approved a resolution to set aside just over 27 acres near the "heavy haul" transportation corridor for a conservation easement for bats.

Officials with the Indiana Department of Transportation, which is overseeing the portion of the project that borders the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville property, approached River Ridge about the possibility of setting aside acreage over concerns about the potential disruption of bat habitats.

Spring water monitoring stations are located in the wooded area being conserved, so the land is not able to be developed, according to Jerry Acy, executive director of River Ridge.

"It's a real scenic area that will be preserved," Acy said of the land, which is near Old Salem Road. "What the state will do as far as reforestation will only enhance what we already have from an aesthetic perspective."

As for the heavy haul project, which will connect River Ridge, the Ind. 265 interchange and the port and make "for a lot better overall traffic circulation," Acy said, INDOT is expected to advertise its portion of the project in the coming months, according to Acy.

The project, which totals about $34 million, extends for nearly four miles. River Ridge's portion of the project, which is nearly two miles long, is complete.

In other business, the board:

• approved a resolution to enter into a contract with Currence Construction for $43,135 to repair a 200,000-gallon water tank.

• approved a resolution to enter into a contract with HWC Engineering not to exceed $129,000 to design a waterway that will service the Gateway Office Park.

• approved a resolution to enter into a contract with Excel Excavating Inc. for $732,105 for a water main extension to replace old 1940s infrastructure mostly along Ind. 62 that will service the north end of River Ridge, with an expected completion date of mid-December.

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