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Work Begins Removing Birds from Two Oregon Coast Bridges; Traffic Issues Astoria, Newport

Published 03/01/22 at 7:42 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Work Begins Removing Birds from Two Oregon Coast Bridges; Traffic Issues Astoria, Newport

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(Astoria, Oregon) – Talk about a poopy job.

Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) workers will be getting extra busy and noisy on two Oregon coast bridges starting March 2, with periodic closures at Newport's Yaquina Bay Bridge and Astoria's Astoria-Megler Bridges. The work being done on these Oregon coast icons? They have to relocate birds that have been nesting there and discourage them from coming back because their poop is degrading the bridges and making it dangerous for workers that have to finish painting them in the coming months.

Essentially, according to ODOT, workers will be scaring the birds away in waves, periods of about 20 minutes where lights and loud sounds will be used on the considerable colonies living on the bridges.

All this is in preparation for more construction and painting work this summer, so the birds need to find new nesting spots.

ODOT said their presence creates a variety of issues and even dangers. There's about 8,000 cormorants alone on the Astoria-Megler Bridge, a number that is double what it was a decade ago. Their excrement coats the bridge and makes it slippery, presenting extreme dangers to even the inspectors. In addition, the bird poop is corrosive to the paint. The density of the nests is also a problem, with many placed closely together, making for even more hazardous conditions for workers.

Starting Tuesday, traffic delays of 20 minutes or less will happen periodically as staff will begin testing the cormorant removal techniques. Look for these to last sporadically throughout the season.

“Daytime closures may continue intermittently through mid-June on the Yaquina Bay Bridge and until September on the Astoria-Megler Bridge,” ODOT said in a press release.

Sometimes you'll be able to see crews working – mostly if they're on the underdeck of the bridges. Staff from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will be out on the two Oregon coast icons utilizing a mix of light and sound to discourage birds from nesting on the bridges. This will include cannons that make extremely loud noises and small projects that make a variety of noises as well as flashes of light.

ODOT said there will be plenty of times you won't see the workers – but those in Newport and Astoria will hear it. The two Oregon coast towns will be louder on occasion near the bridges. ODOT you said you may occasionally see birds scattering as well.

There is no exact schedule as the relocation work will greatly depend on how well the techniques work as personnel learn how the birds respond. Timing of the project will be adjusted.

“Crews may be seen on the bridges at night,” ODOT said. “The work will not interfere with river navigation.”

For the north Oregon coast bridge, painting this 4.1-mile span takes as much as 12 years, with the final phase having started in September of last year. Work is expected to finished by the end of 2024.

On the central Oregon coast, the Yaquina Bay Bridge has several hundred cormorants to deal with. As birds leave the area, containment structures will be built, ODOT said.

Similar sound and light methods were used on the Interstate Bridge in Portland to deter starlings with much success, ODOT said.

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