Lehigh Valley

Turtles slow bridge project's progress in Plainfield

Turtles slow bridge project's progress in Plainfield

PLAINFIELD TWP., Pa. - A bridge project in Northampton County has slowed to a turtle's pace.

The century-old pathway on Rasleytown Road that leads over the Little Bushkill Creek in Plainfield Township, Northampton County, is scheduled to be replaced, but first crews need to make sure a certain turtle is not in the area.

"It was determined that there was habitat for bog turtle," said Richard Young, director of the Northampton County Public Works Department.

The bog turtle is the smallest turtle in the nation and is listed as critically endangered by the federal government. Mainly, the bog turtle is found in the wetlands, the same type of area surrounding the 25-foot bridge.

So, if the four inch, slow but elusive reptile is in the area, Northampton County officials need to protect it.

"Even though the habitat exists, do the turtles actually exist? And if they do, how do we address it during construction?" added Young.

Neighbors said the turtles are there, but after looking for more than an hour, we didn't find any.

Now, the county will have to spend more than $20,000 to have a surveyor come out before the project can continue.

"Frankly, I'd sooner have it occur now while we are in design than while we are in construction," said Young "If it occurs during construction, construction has to stop."

The Northampton County Council was expected to vote on the contract for the surveyor Thursday night. Then, the search for the bog turtle will start in 10 days.

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