Date: 5/19/17 8:31 am From: Fred Atwood via va-bird <va-bird...> Subject: [Va-bird] Cliff Swallows Port Royal follow-up
I was pleased to receive this email from the Environmental Specialist for VDOT Fredericksburg in response to my questions about the swallows nesting on the 301 bridge over the Rappahannock R.
Mr. Atwood, My name is Steve Sharpeta and I work in VDOT’s Fredericksburg Environmental Section. Thank you for your contact in reference to the swallows nesting on the Route 301 bridge over the Rappahannock River. One of my responsibilities is to conduct environmental compliance inspections on projects. This is a project that I have been visiting for a year and conducted my last inspection this past Monday on May 15th. Insuring that work will not affect the nesting swallows is part of my inspection responsibilities. After receiving your inquiry, I spoke with the senior inspector about the project. As I had observed on Monday, the contractor continues to work below the nests and is not impacting them. The senior inspector has also met with the contractor to go over anticipated work for the next three months to ensure we would not have a conflict with any nests. As a little background regarding our approach to migratory bird concerns, VDOT is aware that many species utilize our infrastructure as nesting grounds, particularly swallows. Due to this, a special provision was developed to be included into contracts where migratory barn (Hirundo rustica) and cliff (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) swallows are known to nest on or under bridges. This provision is a limitation of operations for the protection of nesting swallows during the nesting season. Bridges are evaluated by district environmental staff prior to the start of construction and, when swallows are found to be nesting on our structures and work may affect nesting, a time of year restriction (TOYR) is placed on those activities from May 1st to August 15th of any year. Contractors have an option to preempt nesting activities prior to the TOYR date, provided no birds are observed actively nesting (i.e., eggs or young are not present). These actions can include placement of netting, planking, tarpaulins, and other means that prevent the birds from accessing former nests or building new ones. During the planning stages of work on the Route 301 Rappahannock River Bridge, VDOT was aware of the presence of nesting sites for the swallows and incorporated the special provision in the bid package and the contractor was made aware of this special provision during the preconstruction meeting. Once work began in April of 2016, swallows were already present on the bridge. VDOT coordinated with the nongame bird conservation biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries about proposed work (substructure concrete surface repair, concrete beam end repairs, bearing replacement and concrete slope protection repairs) and potential concerns for the nesting swallows. Due to the scope of work and the distance from the nests, VDGIF did not anticipate activities having an adverse impact on the swallows and agreed that work could occur during the TOYR as long as activities continued to be away from the nests. We agreed to recoordinate with them if nests are found to be in the way of critical construction activities or if conflicts with the birds arise.
PS from Fred. Steve said I could share this email with the list serve but that I should remove his contact info since questions are supposed to go through VDOT's Customer Service first. *** You are subscribed to va-bird as <lists...> If you wish to unsubscribe, or modify your preferences please visit http://mailman.listserve.com/listmanager/listinfo/va-bird ***