Endangered hawk shuts down San Fran bridge construction

Updated May 29, 2017

An endangered bird is delaying repairs to an Interstate 80 overpass in the San Francisco Bay Area. CBS SF Bay Area reports that work on the Midway Bridge that crosses the interstate east of Vacaville, California, was supposed to start the week of May 15. But when crews found a Swainson’s Hawk nest in the trees nearby, the bridge retrofit was delayed. And it may be delayed for as much as a year.

“These bridges are built back in the 50s, and it’s something we have to update and take care of,” California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) spokesman Vince Jacala told the news agency, adding that, if anything can stop the construction, it’s the Swainson’s Hawk.

The plan was to demolish the Midway Bridge and build a new one that would meet seismic retrofit standards, but when the Swainson’s hawk nest was discovered, Caltrans had to stop all construction within 600 feet of the nest. The birds are protected and have been on the state’s threatened list since the 1980s.

“Everybody that builds in California and the Central Valley knows the rules of the game,” Judith Lamare, president of Friends of the Swainson’s Hawk, told the news agency. “Historically, there were about 17,000 Swainson’s hawks, today there are about 4,000 breeding Swainson’s hawks.”

Crews will now focus on the Meridian overpass just down the road, until the Swainson’s Hawk family moves to a new home.