In erecting the bat habitats, Reeve says, masonry board on plywood is being experimented with to give the bats a better grip. Additionally, when bats are hanging in their roost, they are naturally going to lose bodily fluids through urination and defecation, Reeve says. “If this is done on wood for an extended time frame, the wood will start to deteriorate,” he says. “But concrete, which deteriorates slower than plywood, will be there for a long period of time without the agency having to worry about it etching or deteriorating.”
In some cases, contractors have installed 80-grit sandpaper onto the plywood forms so the bats have a nicely textured surface to grip during the roosting.
These bat habitat additions are just minor considerations in the design of a bridge, notes ODOT’s Crook. “It doesn’t affect the overall structure of a bridge.”
According to Bat Conservation International, transportation departments are ideally positioned to help re-establish bat populations, Crook says.
“By identifying existing habitats and proactively building roosts during bridge construction, often for less time and money, states protect and encourage bat populations, which in turn, have a positive effect on the ecosystem,” Crook says. “Like the bridges themselves, many of the innovations in heavy highway construction will be invisible to most people. But as builders and designers and employees of government agencies work together and share what we know about new ways of doing business, we’ll all experience the difference in diversity in habitats and species, and in cleaner air and water.”
The status of programmatic permitting for OTIA III State Bridge Delivery Program projects through Feb. 28, 2011.
Rescoped as “No Work” — 94
Designed Prior to Completion of Programmatic Permitting Process — 54
Alternate Permitting Process — 11
Programmatic Permitting Complete — 206
A Team Effort
The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) worked with partners to streamline the environmental permitting process by forming the Programmatic Agreements Reporting and Implementation Team (PARIT) including:
Oregon Departments of Fish and Wildlife, State Lands, Land Conservation and Development, and Environmental Quality;
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers;
National Marine Fisheries Service;
U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife;
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA); and
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Making a Difference
The National Partnership for Highway Quality (nphq.org) recognized the Oregon Department of Transportation (oregon.gov/ODOT/) with a Gold level 2010 Making a Difference Award for Partnering (nphq.org/awards_success.cfm/). ODOT received the honor because of strong collaborations with nine environmental regulatory agencies that helped it deliver on its commitment to avoid and minimize impacts as it repairs and replaces hundreds of aging highway bridges statewide.
ODOT’s success in environmental stewardship on the OTIA III State Bridge Delivery Program (oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/OTIA/bridge_delivery.shtml) is due largely to early planning and coordination with its regulatory partners to design a programmatic permitting process.
Together, they developed a single set of standards that meets all the contributing agencies’ goals while allowing contractors maximum flexibility in how they achieve them. Many of ODOT’s successes in materials reuse and recycling, stewardship of species and habitats, and protection of water quality are the result of this collaborative, outcome-oriented approach.
ODOT worked with the Oregon Departments of Fish and Wildlife, State Lands, Land Conservation and Development, and Environmental Quality; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; National Marine Fisheries Service; U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife; Federal Highway Administration; and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to streamline the programmatic permitting process. Through this effort, the partners have permitted all eligible projects – a total of 206 bridges – and will ultimately save the agency an estimated $73 million in costs avoided.
“ODOT and its team of partners knew that the only way to tackle this challenge was to work together for a solution,” says Tom Lauer, ODOT major projects branch manager. “The important relationships we’ve built through the bridge program will continue as we extend our commitment to protecting the environment on future transportation projects.”
Award recipients were judged on: their measurement of a high-quality result and customer focus; the originality and ingenuity of innovation; cooperation involved in innovation; implementation of innovation by the respective organization; and cost and time savings.
MORE FROM Better Bridges
- Rand Paul introduces bill to fund emergency transportation projects475 Views
- Sydney uses water curtains to alert drivers to stop (VIDEO)461 Views
- Tesla Model S earns top ratings from Consumer Reports428 Views
- Big four cellphone companies jointly launch anti-texting campaign260 Views
- Acceptance of connected vehicles depends on cost, LaHood says253 Views