Infrastructure projects getting delayed by endangered or protected species, fish, fowl and otherwise, are not unique to the Bay Area. But currently there's a big bridge improvement project on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge getting held up by a single, teeny, unhatched hummingbird egg that was discovered in a tiny nest among some trees on the Richmond side that were scheduled for removal. As KQED reports, it's not a huge deal, and it's not going to cause any big cost overruns because workers can start on some other aspects of the project while they wait for this egg to hatch in the next week or two. But it is amazing what one tiny (unborn) hummingbird can do.
The egg belongs to an Anna's hummingbird, which as All About Birds explains is the most common species of hummingbird found along the Pacific Coast. Nonetheless the birds are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits the removal of eggs, and thus the tree removal must wait. Officials tell KQED that crews are readying to remove about two dozen trees on the Richmond side in order to widen the bridge approach on Interstate 580.
Also part of the project is the addition of bike lanes to the upper deck of the bridge, and the addition of a third eastbound traffic lane on the lower deck to ease traffic congestion.
Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesman Randy Rentschler tells the station, "We’ve dealt with this on all sorts of things on every project we’ve worked with in the Bay Area."
Audubon California spokesman Garrison Frost also explains that a similar situation involving cormorants has repeatedly held up the deconstruction of the old eastern span of the Bay Bridge. That problem, as the Chronicle reported in 2014, is estimated to be costing Caltrans $33 million on top of every other cost overrun the Bay Bridge's new span has run into, all because nesting cormorants refuse to take up residents in new nesting "condos" built for them beneath the new span at a cost of $1 million. 533 cormorant nests were found on the old span that year, and work crews had to stop work every spring when new eggs were laid. It's unclear how many cormorants they're still dealing with now that much, but not all, of the old span has been dismantled.