Study to Count Birds Flying into New Hastings Bridge Could Cost $100,000

Updated: 04/25/2014 10:13 PM By: Josh Rosenthal

The new Hastings Bridge is causing big problems for birds.

"The Mississippi River is a major migratory bird flyway," explained the National Park Service's Paul Labovitz, "and so the potential for the bird bridge strikes are very high here."

Back in 2009, the Minnesota Department of Transportation wanted to rebuild the Hastings Bridge. It's in a national park so the Park Service had to sign off on the plans. They did, but they added a condition: once the bridge was built, MnDOT would have to pay for a study to figure out how many birds fly into the bridge.

"What if there are 400 bridges along the Mississippi flyway and every time we replace them we build something that kills another increment of migrating birds? The incremental impact of that is really something we should pay attention to," Labovitz said.

The study will be paid for with federal highway funds, and it's expected to cost anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000.

Labovitz said it's easy to say the money should be spent elsewhere, but when you factor in what natural resources are worth in a state like Minnesota, the study really isn't such a large investment.

He also said whenever federal funds are spent on a project, by law they have to make sure the project won't negatively impact the environment. That doesn't mean they conduct a bird study every time a new bridge is built, but the hope here is that this study will influence future projects.