ACADIA NAT’L PARK — Repair and restoration work inside the hollow arches of the Duck Brook Motor Road Bridge is on pause for a month – from June 15 to July 15 – to avoid disturbing mother bats and their newborn pups.
“This is their peak maternity period, so we’re giving them a break during this time,” said Keith Johnston, Acadia’s facilities manager.
Acadia is home to three species of bats that are listed as threatened or endangered under the federal or state Endangered Species Acts.
The bats are threatened by white-nose syndrome, a fungal infection that has killed millions of bats in the United States, wiping out entire colonies. Bats can’t stay ahead of the disease with rapid reproduction because females have only one pup each year.
Lee Construction Group is doing the bridge work at a cost of $3.15 million.
“The project includes the restoration of a safety walkway and inspection system that spans all of the arches on the inside of the bridge,” Johnston said. “That’s a big job that we’re excited to have done. It will make inspections easier to do in the future.
“There are also significant masonry repairs on the interior to allow the drainage to move from the roadway down through the arches of the bridge. The drainage system is all collapsed or broken on the inside,” Johnston said.
“When the interior work is finished, they will be moving on to the exterior of the west side of the bridge, the upstream side, to repair the damaged and cracked masonry between the stones.”
Bats have not been found living inside the Duck Brook Motor Road Bridge.
“However, the (threatened and endangered) species have been known to be present in the area outside the bridge and may use cracks in the bridge’s exterior masonry during the pupping season,” said Sean Bonnage, public affairs assistant at Acadia.
“Disturbances such as loud noises from masonry work could cause maternal bats to lose a pup, leading to impacts on the population.”
Johnston said that when the repair and restoration work resumes July 15, there will once again be alternating one-way traffic across the Duck Brook Motor Road Bridge, which carries the road between the Hulls Cove Visitor Center and Eagle Lake Road.