Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Everett seismic retrofit project receives unforeseen 'gift'

By David Rasbach

Many of our projects encounter challenges and unexpected costs along the way. But this one is simply for the birds.

Last winter, while preparing a project to seismically strengthen four bridges along State Route 526 in Everett, our contractor, Kramer North America, discovered the structures under two of the bridges were covered with an exceptional amount of … well, pigeon poo.

It was everywhere. Girders and supports were covered with an extraordinary amount of excrement – over an inch deep in many places – prompting our construction team leader to call it “shocking.” He’d never seen that much bird poop under a bridge before.

Cue Jeff Goldblum from “Jurassic Park,” saying “that’s one big pile of…” well, you get the drift.

Where is Mike Rowe from “Dirty Jobs” when you need him?

Bio-hazard workers remove bird poop from beneath the SR 526 overpass at Hardeson Road in Everett. More than an inch of excrement coated some areas underneath the bridge before work began to seismically strengthen it to better withstand an earthquake.

Before work could begin, a bio-hazard sub-contractor team cleaned up the pigeons’ more-than-generous deposits on the east sides of the bridges, creating a safer, cleaner work zone for crews to bolster the bridges to better withstand an earthquake.

Now that this project is nearing its halfway mark and with work about to swap to the columns along the west side of those bridges, it’s time to get out the ol’ pooper scooper once again. It’s a crappy process that will take about two weeks.

Keeping it clean

As anyone who has ever cleaned a bathroom will tell you, the worst part about the entire job is how quickly it gets dirty again.

To make sure our feathered friends don’t despoil the newly sanitized areas under the bridges again, our contractor got permission to mount gel discs underneath the bridges as a way to prevent a recurrence of poo. These discs deter all species of birds from the area by:

  • Sight – Birds see the discs the same way they would see smoke or fire and stay away for self-preservation.
  • Smell – Birds find the gel discs’ citronella and peppermint oil scents unpleasant and stay away.
  • Touch – Birds do not like their feet to touch sticky substances, such as the gel on the discs.
After cleaning bird poop from underneath the SR 526 overpass at Hardeson Road, crews installed discs to persuade the birds from landing underneath the bridge and soiling the area again.

The discs are safe for the environment and are made of all-green ingredients. They previously have been used on other bridges, roof tops, skylights, signs, HVAC equipment and even enclosed spaces.

So far, they have been effective in keeping the birds away from the bridge structures and keeping a safe, poop-free work zone for our contractor crews to complete this project.

Pigeons potentially discussing pooping on our bridges

Big thanks to everyone for their patience while we get this messy work done. And if you're a pigeon or other bird who happens to be reading this, please limit your pooping on our bridges.


HappyCampers said...

Does the upcoming shift to the west side mean that the sidewalk/Interurban bike path, currently blocked on the east side, will reopen for use then?
Dan S.

Bill M said...

Well written. I enjoyed the laughs and references. Good sense of humor.

WSDOT said...

Hello Dan,

Yes, once work shifts over to the west side of the bridge, the sidewalk along the east side will reopen.

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