Constructing 91 miles of roadway on a busy thoroughfare such as Interstate 65 can seem like a daunting task in many ways, but the one thing that stopped Scotty’s Contracting and Stone was a three-inch flying mammal.
“Ever hear of a long-eared bat?” asked James Scott, CEO of Scotty’s Contracting and Stone, at the Noon Rotary meeting Wednesday at the Bowling Green Country Club.
Scott was the featured guest and spoke about his company’s experience doing more than 90 miles of the widening of I-65, an effort that started in 2008 and is now substantially complete.
Scott said the one thing that shut down progress during the work was when the federal Environmental Protection Agency mandated the company stop work for a month because long-eared bats were nesting along the road during mating season.
The long-eared bat is on the endangered species list.
Scott also offered some numbers to put his company’s I-65 work in perspective, such as $701 million – the total bid for the 15 sections of the project. Scott said the next lowest bid was for $779 million.
“We saved the state $78 million,” he said, adding that the Scotty’s bid was even lower than the state had estimated the cost would be. “We think (the state) got their money’s worth.”
Other figures shared by Scott included 6.7 million tons – the amount of asphalt needed for the project, 3.7 million cubic yards – the amount of material excavated during the widening, and $65, the cost for each of the ubiquitous orange construction barrels.
“I got sick each time I saw one destroyed by a truck,” Scott said. “We buy those barrels by the truckload.”
Despite the massive scale of the project, Scott said he was most proud that his company didn’t suffer a single fatality, despite the dangers of working on an active highway.
“We had a lot of flagmen who had to jump on a wall,” to avoid being hit, Scott said.
As for other challenges, “the toughest job was controlling traffic 24 hours a day,” Scott said. “It took a lot of training.”
The safety efforts were crucial, he said, because “someone’s life was at stake.”
Scott said his company’s work on the final part of the widening project near Elizabethtown should completely end in November. At that point, the road will be six lanes across the commonwealth.
As a result, “it’s going to feed in even faster” to I-65 in Tennessee, where the road is only four lanes for long stretches.
“I think you’ll see something in Tennessee now that the state gas tax was raised,” Scott said.
In April, Tennessee’s governor signed off on a six cent per gallon gas tax hike to fund road projects, although what those projects will be has still not been determined.
At the end of Wednesday’s presentation, Rotarians thanked Scott for his many charitable efforts in the area.
“Bowling Green has been very, very good to me,” he said in response. “I believe in giving back.”