Just south of Gainesville, Florida, along highway 441 crossing Paynes Prairie, is a $3.6 million dollar project to protect FROGS! On both sides of the road they are building a 5 foot high FROG wall with a FROG-LIP on the top designed to keep frogs from becoming road kill.
|5 Foot High Solid Concrete FROG Wall|
Little consideration has been given to the natural selection process, i.e. the faster and stronger reptiles always make it to the great mating grounds on the other side of the road. The lame, slow and hesitant amorous adventurers meet their destiny with the Honda Civics and SUVs as the U of F yuppies speed to and from the ultra-liberal metropolis of Gainesville.
Beginning last year, a very expensive study was made of the highway of death. Morbid volunteers walked the just-over-a-mile stretch of 441, counting and spray painting each victim. Fluorescent paint marked the body and spot of death so the next day's kill would be evident. Nobody knows how many meal patrons died from ingesting the fluorescent paint, but the count must have been accurate. Imagine the bright orange outline of a swamp toad body etched on the road for months into the summer. They claim a hundred thousand such kills, yet the road never was all bright orange. You had to really hunt to see the forensic outlines and tiny bodies. I walked the road today to bring you an up close and personal image of the carnage but alas, not one dead low belly to be found.
To ensure the migration habits are not interrupted, the DOT is adding four under road culverts to the existing two as a highway to the nuptial mud bath bedroom. Over the next thousand years the species should learn the new migration network, and those that do not do well under water as they swim the more than 100 feet will probably develop gills, or just disappear as another victim of their frog wall barrier environment. The 80-100 rabbits that lived so long in the buffer zone between the asphalt and the swamp edge are already gone, crushed as they slept, by more than a dozen bulldozers, payloaders and backhoes as construction began. They never really had a chance and their ultimate sacrifice came as frogs received the affirmative action they have long waited for.
For the astute sidewalk supervisors out there, we will later be reporting on the sinking and collapse of the wall as the summer rainy season begins. These giant frog wall sections must weigh nearly as much as an Abrams Tank or even Madeleine Albright, the U.S. Secretary of State. On top of freshly dug swamp muck, a cloth barrier and one foot of limestone rock, these monuments to man's respect for all things completely nuts are gently placed with only a hope they will be standing next year. Oh sure, a DOT engineer spent probably $300,000.00 designing the ultimate frog proof wall and the placement specifications, but I recall they designed the Sunshine Skyway Bridge that launched a Greyhound bus into free flight when the span fell into Tampa Bay.
Just under a mile to the west of 441 is Interstate 75. A good guess is that it carries a thousand times the daily traffic as 441, and it crosses the same prairie with a somewhat longer stretch of road. It will cost probably $5.8 million to frog wall I-75. A call to the DOT stupidvisor in Lake City, Florida known as "B.J." got no response. He probably has already talked to a few outraged callers demanding an end to the project -- at least before the I-75 idea gets legs.
If you ever wondered about the Florida Department of Transportation (DOT) and their priorities for our roads, you have cause for alarm. If you live where the DOT claims no money for your much needed road improvement project then you now know why.
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Last Modified August 5, 2000