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Nesting birds are adding nearly $5 million to the price of building the BART extension south of Fremont. BART's board approved paying the extra cost on Thursday.
It's illegal to damage the nests of migratory birds, and the Bay Area is a stop on the bird superhighway known as the Pacific Flyway. BART knew to budget some money for planning around birds, but BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said the agency underestimated.
"It proved to be much more expensive than we thought it would," Trost said. "And proved to be a lot more birds than we thought it would be."
Workers did everything they could to scare the birds off.
"Sprinklers, reflective streamers, air dancers -- they're at car stations, it's those big billowy type dancing creatures," Trost said.
When that didn't work, they had to wait for the eggs to hatch and the birds to leave their nests, which they had built right in the construction site.
BART initially budgeted $90,000 to try to keep nesting birds at bay. Deterrence efforts and the extra work that went into continuing construction without disturbing the nests drove the cost up to just under $5 million.
But Trost says if construction had been delayed, the costs would have been much higher.
"The best news is that, obviously, we protected the eggs. But the project is still on time, and it's on budget."
BART had the extra money in its contingency fund.
Below are photos of the birds-versus-BART saga, courtesy BART, not the birds.