Bridge Utilities Infrastructure News

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The Impact of Wildlife on Bridge Piping

Posted by Edward Dill on Mar 20, 2018 9:05:00 AM

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Bridge piping accomplishes a variety of utilitarian purposes. On hundreds of thousands of bridges across the U.S., bridge-attached piping moves vital resources such as water, natural gas, and even high-speed internet cabling from one point to another. It’s important to remember that not only do bridges themselves have a significant impact on the environment around them, bridge piping does, too.

How Wildlife Uses Bridge Structures

Bridges are part of the natural environment for thousands of species. Animals use bridges in many ways, the most visible of which are as support structures for nests or dwellings. Animals like bats, raccoons, wood rats, owls, and myriad others have been known to build their habitats in or around bridges and bridge piping.

Birds are particularly attracted to bridges – especially those elevated over water – and birds of prey such as osprey and peregrines use them as a home-base when searching for food. Birds’ nests are one of the most common maintenance issues for bridges, growing over time to become hazardous to both man and beast.

How Wildlife Impacts Bridge Piping

Wildlife can pose significant issues for bridge-attached piping and even for the structural elements of bridges themselves. Nests built in and around piping can become incredibly heavy over time, putting undue strain on attachment brackets. Animal dwellings mean heat and moisture, both of which can lead to issues with corrosion of piping and piping elements.

Bridge piping is also susceptible to being destroyed by animals themselves. It’s not unheard of for birds or mammals to peck or chew through piping made of PVC or corroded metal in an attempt to create a safer dwelling. It’s imperative to consider local wildlife species and their capabilities when installing bridge piping to ensure the piping material itself can withstand the specific threats posed by the local fauna.

Our Responsibility to Animals

Just as animals impact bridge piping, bridges and bridge piping can impact animals, too. When a bridge is outfitted in piping that’s susceptible to breach by animals, for example, the entire natural area around the structure (including human-occupied areas) can be in grave danger if that pipe were to leak natural gas or other dangerous materials.

In some locations, wildlife driven out of their previous habitats by development turn to bridges as an alternative. Hundreds of protected bird species, for example, nest on bridges around the U.S. Laws make it a federal offense to remove or harm actively nesting birds on these bridges which can make scheduling maintenance a delicate balancing act. When performing both routine and one-off maintenance on bridge-attached utilities and structural components, it’s important to work with a maintenance partner familiar with the regulations to avoid hefty fines.


Aptus has worked on thousands of bridge piping projects across the United States. DOTs and other maintenance organizations call us when they need help installing, repairing, or even replacing bridge-attached utilities that are substandard or otherwise inefficient. We’re always happy to help.

Our teams know the complex laws and regulations concerning wildlife on bridges in your state. We’ll help you schedule your service appropriately then carry out your project in a way that’s respectful, comprehensive, and effective.

Ready to learn more?
Contact an Aptus team near you to get started.

 

Topics: Bridge Maintenance, Bridge Piping, Wildlife