An Effort To Protect An Endangered Bumblebee Halts Algonquin Highway Project

CHICAGO (CBS) — An endangered bumblebee has stung a highway project in Algonquin.

If completed, The Longmeadow Parkway should stretch east from Randall Road and cross the Fox River.

As CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports, to protect the bee, a judge has ordered construction come to a halt.

It was not hard spotting bumblebees in Kane County’s Brunner Forest Preserve, but the potential presence of one in particular, the endangered Rusty Patched bumblebee, with a rust patch on its back, is causing a lot of buzz.

“Most of the resources and habitats it thrives in have been taken away from the Chicago region, prairies, forests,” said Jana Kinsman, Bike A bee.

On Monday, initial construction of the four-lane Longmeadow Parkway in Algonquin came to a grinding halt. A federal judge issued the temporary stop because the rare bee might be present in the preserve along the construction route.

“This infrastructure is critically important to the future of this community,” said John Schmitt, Algonquin Village President.

The 5-mile parkway through a traffic clogged suburb is decades in the making, but the Bee was only placed on the endangered species list in late March.

“I certainly care about the bees,” Schmitt said.

John Schmitt is Algonquin’s village president. He said the group Stop Longmeadow, which opposes the parkway, never brought the bee to the court’s attention until now.

“There are bumblebees pretty much all over the state of Illinois. I don’t know if it’s significant to this area. No one really does, because it has not been studied,” Schmitt said.

In its ruling the court found “the balance of harms weighs in favor of the plaintiffs and against the public’s interest in reduced traffic congestion.”

Stop Longmeadow now has until April 28th to further document possible harm to the rusty patched bumblebee or construction could resume.

“It’s a little keystone in the eco system, that if they go who knows what else is going,” Kinsman said.

So what happens next?

Court watchers said it is likely the temproary restraining order against The US Department of Transportation, The Federal Highway Administration and Kane County will be extenxded while the judge considers what’s needed to protect the bumblebee. Perhaps creating a safeguarded preserved nearby, or in the extreme, rerouting the project altogether.

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