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Study to determine impact of new bridge on birds

Between $30,000 and $100,000 in federal funds will be spent to study the effect of the new Hastings bridge on birds.

Two steps will be taken in the study.

The first step will be for a researcher to examine any previous studies that have been done on birds flying into structures like the new arch bridge here.

Based on what is learned in that study, there could be a second one ordered. That study would include a “science project,” said Steve Kordosky, the Minnesota Department of Transportation bridge project manager. It would be more hands-on, he said.

Researchers would ultimately hope to learn the frequency at which birds strike the new bridge, and whether or not it is related to the lighting of the bridge.


When MnDOT was considering three different bridge styles for Hastings, an environmental assessment was done on each one.

The box girder design, similar to the Wakota Bridge in South St. Paul, would have had the least impact on birds, the study found.

The second-best option was the arch design, which was ultimately chosen. Still, the National Park Service said that if that was the route MnDOT chose, they’d have to spend $100,000 on migratory bird conservation programs to offset the negative impact of the arch design.

The worst option, as far as the NPS was concerned, was the cable bridge, similar to the Martin Sabo pedestrian bridge in Minneapolis. Had MnDOT chosen that option, NPS would have asked for $400,000 worth of funding to offset its negative impact.

Request for information

The National Park Service has issued a request for information regarding the study, citing the project dates as running from July 2014 to January 2016.

The document reads, in part, like this:

“The goal of this research project is to determine what correlations exist between bird-bridge collisions and bridge structure size, type (design) and lighting. In order to acquire this information it is important to understand what information is presently available, what research efforts have been completed or are underway and how a research study could be designed to best acquire this information. The study will need to determine if there are specific species that are more susceptible to bridge strikes and if there are increased energetic expenses of maneuvering around bridge structures. …

“Numerous studies of avian mortality with regards to power lines, wind turbines and building design have been done. However, research of various bridge design aspects and their impacts on bird strikes are difficult to find, if they exist at all. This is particularly interesting considering the majority of bridges cross waterways – a site for resting, nesting and feeding.”

Other bridge news

Kordosky said the work on the median just north of the new bridge should be done within the next three weeks. That’s the project that has traffic down to a single lane in both directions.

The parking area under the bridge in downtown Hastings is under way, too. Everything should be complete by July 7, Kordosky said.

The contractor still hasn’t committed to the solution to repair the flaking concrete on the bridge railing.