HAMMONTON, NJ - Oct. 30, 2017 - Inspired by Bat Week that runs from Oct. 24 to Oct. 31, the South Jersey Transportation Authority is erecting at total of 20 bat houses at its three maintenance yards and two toll plazas on the Atlantic City Expressway.
Bats play a critical and vital role in the ecology of local environments, even here in South Jersey. They eat many insects each night, pollinate flowers and spread seeds that grow new plants and trees.
Bat populations face numerous threats including a disease called White Nose Bat Syndrome and the loss of habitat. The bat houses provide shelter and safety from predators.
Spanning 44 miles in length and encompassing over 1,200 acres, the Atlantic City Expressway occupies a significant amount of land in South Jersey. Consequently, the SJTA is pursuing ongoing environmental initiatives. In addition to the bat houses that are expected to help reduce the mosquito population, the Authority is installing 20 bluebird boxes and 20 American kestrel boxes. Five osprey platforms are being located near the coastal areas in Atlantic City.
Building the boxes is a collaboration between the SJTA and Gloucester County Institute of Technology. The Authority provided the materials and GCIT carpentry students built the boxes that are being erected.
As part of its environmental initiatives, the SJTA has been planting wild flowers along the Expressway for years. Recently, with the assistance of the US Fish and Wildlife Services, the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Department of Agriculture and the New Jersey Pinelands Commission, it has begun using native seeds with the goal of planting 100 percent indigenous and perennial seeds in 2018 that will attract more pollinators to the South Jersey area.
BELOW: Members of the South Jersey Transportation Authority Operations Department set up one of 20 bat houses located along the Atlantic City Expressway. (SJTA photo)