CalTrans is preparing to rebuild Eight Mile Bridge, formally known as South Eel River Bridge, on hwy 162 crossing Outlet Creek. In their Initial Study CalTrans proposes a Mitigated Negative Declaration, and recognizes the public dangers posed by this seismically unsound structure with very narrow traffic lanes and shoulders.
Our primary concerns are limiting disruption to the several species of bats (Pallid bat, Townsend big-eared bat, and western red bad) documented using the bridge structure to roost, and improving safety and recreational river access. The future Great Redwood Trail will run just west of this bridge and the new influx of trail users will need safe access to the river. The existing bridge is already an important access point for boaters, albeit a somewhat dangerous one given the limited amount of space.
For these reasons, we propose that CalTrans adopt Alternative C which would provide wider shoulders, but most importantly provide the least amount of disruption to roosting bat colonies by building the new structure alongside the existing one and allowing for bats to colonize the new structure.
See our attached comments for additional information.