UPDATE 2, Sept. 14: City Manager Andrew Neiditz reported today the bridge repair is finished and the weight restriction on the span for heavy vehicles will be lifted by September 21.
UPDATE, Sept. 7: The swallows have flown the nest and the bridge repair project should resume and be completed next week, City Manager Andrew Neiditz reported today.
ORIGINAL POST: The discovery of a nest of swallow chicks has delayed a repair project on the bridge spanning Lake Steilacoom.
In December, the city of Lakewood imposed a weight restriction on the Interlaaken Bridge after one of the wooden beams that supports the bridge deck had rotted. Large vehicles, including buses, garbage trucks and tractor-trailers, are unable to cross under the restriction.
The city contracted with the Washington State Department of Transportation to replace the beam. The cost is $25,000.
The WSDOT crew was putting up scaffolding earlier this month when they discovered the nest with at least three chicks located three feet from the beam, said Eric Swanstrom, the city’s project manager. Swallows are migratory birds protected under federal law.
As a result, the project is delayed until the swallows are able to fly the coop. Swanstrom said that could take up to six weeks, although the WSDOT crew will check in on them in three weeks.
“We typically run into fish windows if we’re doing work below the water line,” Swanstrom said. “This is the first time I’ve had a bird do this.”
Follow me on Twitter @TNTchill