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.

Regards
Steve

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.
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