First step to retrofitting Torrey Pines Bridge: Move the bats - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

First step to retrofitting Torrey Pines Bridge: Move the bats

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DEL MAR (CBS 8) - The seismic retrofit project on the Torrey Pines Bridge that leads to Del Mar has been in the planning stage for over a half-dozen years. With construction getting underway, one of the first things the City of Del Mar has to do is move the bats that live under the bridge to their new home.

The Torrey Pines Bridge was built in 1933. In that time, some cracks have developed and bats now call it home. Del Mar is giving those bats a new home.

Four different species of bats make up a population of nearly 300 that roost in the bridge -- the largest group being Mexican free tail bats.

"One of the firs things we did was to hire some bat specialists to come to the bridge, do counts of how many bats were living in the bridge, what type of bats, when they were living in the bridge and when they left and when they came back," Deputy Public Works Director Eric Minicilli said.

Most of the bats migrate south for the winter, so now is the perfect time to get the remaining bats out. But getting the bats out was only half the plan.

"Putting up alternate habitats for bats is common procedure. They do this wherever they have to exclude bats from. Our bat biologists as well as the original bat biologist all have the same experience. They've used this many times before in the past and it's usually very successful," T.Y. Lin Int. Sr. Bridge Engineer Wade Durant said.

Because the Torrey Pines Bridge is next to a wetlands, the bats play a key role in the ecological balance of the area.

"We thought it was necessary to make sure they have an area nearby. We don't want them to just leave to another area. These bats have been coming here for many years and to have a roost that they can come back to was an important idea," Minicilli said.

Another effect of the retrofit is trail access to the beach will be closed. If you plan to make your way down there, you'll have to find alternative routes.

A bat biologist will be monitoring how the bats react to their new home over the next couple of weeks as well as when the migratory population starts showing up in March.

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