SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Sacramento’s Fix 50 project has caused issues for travelers using the freeway through the city, but they are not the only ones being inconvenienced by the massive project, as numerous species of birds and bats are being displaced.
The Sacramento Valley has a healthy population of bats who feed on insects during the night.
Concrete bridges with their expansion crevasses and drainage holes are natural homes for bats, but that is not why anti-bat and bird devices were installed in late summer under the Capital City Freeway.
It turns out it’s for their own good.
“We’re putting up exclusion devices so that they will go elsewhere,” said Caltrans biologist Shawn Duffy.
Caltrans bridges are cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, but the massive Fix 50 construction project means tearing into existing freeway structures to add lanes and make other improvements.
The work will be done during nesting and when rearing their young.
“You don’t want to disturb then because you don’t want them abandoning their young,” Duffy explained.
Freeway gaps and crevices are being filled with foam and plywood.
There’s a reason the devices covering drainage holes will look vaguely familiar — they’re essentially upside-down traffic cones with some flexible plastic tubing on the end, making a one-way door so birds and bats can’t re-enter.
Caltrans has been known to use some pretty sophisticated engineering techniques to accomplish its work, but repurposing ordinary traffic cones is not one of them.
But the devices have been used on various projects over the past several years, including last year on a freeway project near Rocklin and they are proven to work.
This time of year, birds have migrated and bats may be hibernating. Once they have left, they can’t return.
Caltrans says they have plenty of new homes to choose from in the wild, as well as other buildings and structures that fit their needs.
“It allows them to go to another area, a protected area versus being the bridge when construction is happening, that’s not a very safe place,” Caltrans spokeswoman Angela Daprato said.
The $400 million Fix 50 project will be finished at the tail end of 2024 or the beginning of 2025, but Caltrans told FOX40 the devices could be removed once a particular part of the project is completed.