Bird habitat costs BART $5 million more for Warm Spring extension

Flocks of migrating birds and their fragile habitats in the South Bay are costing BART nearly $5 million more in its rail extension efforts.

The transit agency’s Warm Springs project crosses through the 450-mile Fremont Central Park, a Bay shore setting that is home to 500 different bird species, all of which are protected by state and federal wildlife agencies.

Building a subway tunnel through that imperiled ecosystem isn’t exactly an easy task, particularly since migrating seasons last for six months, from January to June. To avoid disturbing nests, project contractor Shimmick Construction Co. had to relocate much of its tunneling equipment and extend workers’ hours. As a result, Shimmick requested $4.99 million in additional pay from BART, on top of its existing $136 million contract.

BART staffers said the change-order requests from Shimmick were unavoidable, with the construction company having few alternatives to avoid damaging the habitat. Shimmick also was credited for avoiding any fines or penalties from federal authorities for violations of wildlife codes.

In the end, BART’s board of directors opted to unanimously approve the change-order request.

“I believe that this is the cost of being a good neighbor,” said board member Robert Raburn.

BART’s Warm Springs expansion project will extend rail service 5.4 miles into Fremont. The project will add two stations—Irvington and Warm Springs/South Fremont.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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