Why did Caltrans bolt hundreds of upside-down traffic cones to the underside of the W-X freeway in downtown Sacramento? The answer is almost as odd as the sight of rows of orange cones clinging like bats to the belly of a concrete bridge.
In fact, the whole endeavor involves actual bats.
Thousands of bats and birds and even some owls reside in the crannies and crevices of the elevated freeway. Caltrans has decided to evict them so they won’t be in the way of a major widening project.
Each cone covers one of the structure’s “weep holes,” the holes that allow moisture to drain out of the bridge deck during the rainy season. Those weep holes have been serving another, informal, purpose: Birds and bats use them as entrances to hideaways in the structure where the bats roost and the birds build nests.
Evicting the bats and birds means those species will not be around to nest or reproduce in the structure during the upcoming construction period, said Caltrans biologist Shawn Duffy. “We don’t want them having their young while we are working on it. They might abandon their young, which we don’t want them to do.”