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Critter Bridges Drive Taxpayers Batty

Friday, November 22, 2013

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Q: Why didn’t the chicken cross the road?

A: He was holding out for his own bridge.

And who can blame him, when the public is shelling out right and left to safeguard his furry road-crossing friends?

Wikimedia Commons / MikeCalder

A bat bridge in Cornwall, UK, is not nearly as substantial as the two new structures in Biberach, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. The pair cost about $600,000--before monitoring expenses.

Indeed, a recent frenzy over two bridges built exclusively for field mice in Germany now has taxpayers ballistic over two new spans built and reserved just for bats.


First came the two mouse bridges in Biberach, Baden-Württemberg, which cost €435,000 ($585,680 USD) to build and €35,000 a year (about $47,000 USD) for "surveillance," reported The Local, a German newspaper.

The bridges (pictured here) were built for the mice to cross the road. So people cannot use the bridges, even if the mice don't.

Wikimedia Commons / Jackhynes

The field mice of Biberach, Baden-Württemberg, will be monitored to make sure they are using their new bridges, which cost $585,680 to build.

The mouse bridges actually topped five recent "worst examples" of tax funds being squandered in the latest edition of Public Squandering, the annual so-called "black book" by the German Taxpayers' Association.

(The mouse bridges even beat out bigger-ticket items, including a €200 million, three-year-old, still-unused operating room and a public construction project whose cost has ballooned from €77 million to €800 million.)

Going Bats

But the razzing over the rodents was nothing compared to the fur that has been flying over the two bat bridges (pictured here) built in the same town.

The town council has spent about $605,000 USD to build the bridges for bats and will now spend about $48,460 a year on monitoring to make sure the bridges are doing their jobs, according to London's Daily Mail.

Wikimedia Commons / Bureau of Land Management

Even wildlife lovers wonder why the new crossings were built exclusively for bats.

The new bridges are designed exclusively for flying bats and cannot be used by people or even other animals, the newspaper reports. The bridges protect the bats from traffic on a new road.

"Bats navigate by flying close to the ground, and without the bridges, the new bypass would shrink their hunting ground by half," the Mail said.

Now, wildlife crossings are in fairly widespread use. But the newspaper notes that deer, foxes and other animals have also been endangered by the new road and their defenders want to know why they were not factored into the bat-bridge plan.

Caped Crusaders

Adding to the animal animosity is the sudden appearance of three bat-bridge defenders (attired, of course, as Batman) who are staging demonstrations around town.

Town fathers say they had to build the bridge so they could proceed with much-needed construction of a major new road.

"We are not to blame," the council's road planning chief, Georg Stolz told the Mail. "Without the bridges, the road project would not have been able to go ahead.

"We tried to tell them that it might have been more sensible to simply have one bridge to test the theory and to see whether it works, but it was ruled out.

"They said that the way that the trees and plants were laid out meant that it was quite clear that the bats needed two bridges, and so we had to agree to it if we wanted to go ahead."


Tagged categories: Bridges; Construction; Project Management; Roads/Highways

Comment from John Fauth, (11/22/2013, 9:59 AM)

Obviously, the judgement of German bureaucrats vastly exceeds our own. I cannot help but wonder if they might be convinced to build a healthcare website for us.

Comment from M. Halliwell, (11/25/2013, 10:37 AM)

We have a few critter underpasses for roads and overpasses for surface pipelines up here...mostly in areas where there are species at risk. I can see a need in some circumstances for larger animals, but mice and bats? Bats fly (why do they need a bridge?) and mice can make use of a culvert sized "underpass" that would cost a lot less to install.

Comment from John Fauth, (11/29/2013, 11:52 AM)

Now why would interject common sense into a discussion about bureaucracy? Obviously, all that's needed is an outreach program to inform the bats and mice how much they need these bridges. Advertising, community organizers, fully staffed offices in bat and mice prone communities....

Comment from M. Halliwell, (12/3/2013, 10:52 AM)

John, you're quite right....what was I thinking? We must not forget about the PR campaign to remind the public that mice and bats are people too...after all, they're just like us: trying to make it in this tough world...don't want any negative, specist feelings toward them, right? ;)

Comment from John Fauth, (12/4/2013, 10:14 AM)

Right! I'm glad you've come to your...errrr... senses.

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