Over a Bird? MT Residents Facing 120 Mile Drive to Town
What was a 25 mile drive to town has now turned into a 120 mile drive to town. All because of a bird?
Here's the message we received a while back from Tony in Hardin:
"Could you please look into the closing of state highway 384 out side of Hardin. The culvert on Dry creek just out side of Hardin was starting to wash out earlier this spring so they ordered the culvert. It has been sitting there for two months but the state would not put it in because of a nesting bird, as told to the residents. Now with all the rain I’m the last two weeks it is almost washed it turning a 25 mile drive one way to town for essential things into more like 120! Also the residents of Sarpy creek are are cut off from emergency services such as fire and ambulance." (Tony, Hardin - 06/28 @ 19:33pm)
I shared that message with our friends at the Montana Department of Transportation, and yeah- it sounds like they had the construction project all ready to go and then a few birds...and the federal government...got in the way.
Lori Ryan with MDT sent me this note the very next day after I had received Tony's message:
Lori Ryan: Netting was installed by the contractor on the Sarpy Creek Road project prior to the nesting season to prevent migratory birds from nesting in the culverts. The culverts were heavily rusted leaving voids where swallows could build nests and get behind the structures. Unfortunately, the swallows got through the netting and started nesting activity. Continued work on the culverts would have been a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which does not allow any harassment, taking of swallows or active nests. MDT’s Environmental Services Bureau worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in DC to get an Emergency Depredation Permit which was provided the first week in June, that allowed the construction to continue.
The good news is that the construction work has now begun. Riverside Construction started the week before the 4th of July weekend. They hope to have it wrapped up in August. They also say that emergency access is being allowed while construction is ongoing.
Lori Ryan: MDT has worked with emergency services to provide emergency access if needed. MDT is dedicated to expediting this project and apologizes for any inconvenience. Travelers are encouraged to plan ahead and adjust their travel time accordingly for the duration of the project. For the very latest information on the construction, and other road conditions around Montana visit www.511mt.net. The estimated completion of the project will be August 1st.
Here's my question: how long did it take for the feds to finally approve the emergency permit? Imagine the gas money being spent just to get town for simple services like groceries.
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