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Bat condos ready for move-in day on the new Houghton Road Bridge

Public art for Broadway EastApril 18, 2018 -  Bats returning from their winter homes south of Arizona have a new place to hang out … er … roost when they arrive back in Tucson. The newly constructed northbound half of Houghton Road Bridge over the railroad tracks has incorporated roosting real estate for the tiny mammals. Special roosting boxes were designed to attach to the bridge and are already in place as biologists await the bat’s migration north.

Thousands of bats from four different species have been observed on the old Houghton Road Bridge since 1998. Crews demolished the bridge in late March and early April while most of the bats were away for the winter. Biologists are optimistic the bats will take a liking to the new bridge and boxes. In fact, they already have. Mike Dawson, environmental planner with EcoPlan Associates, said, “Upon inspection of the bat houses in the new northbound bridge on April 4, there were 18 bats. This is the time of year the bats start migrating from Mexico and points farther south. We expect to have a better idea of occupancy and variety of species in the next 30 days or so.”

It took careful planning to time the bat re-location just right. Dawson said that “bats are an important component of the ecosystem. The species at Houghton Road Bridge are insectivores, consuming up to half their body weight in insects each night. In turn, the bats often become prey for raptors. All part of the cycle that needs to stay in balance.” Dawson and his team will continue to monitor the bats as they find their new home.

Work is already underway on the second Houghton Road Bridge. Funding for the bridge project is a blend of RTA, City of Tucson, Pima County and Federal Highway Administration dollars.

Previous RTA News stories:

April 2018

March 2018

Feb. 2018

Jan. 2018

Dec. 2017

Nov. 2017

Oct. 2017

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