Update: Wildlife advocates staged a protest April 26, claiming that state and federal agencies are slow in replacing nets that are killing nesting swallows. Caltrans spokesmen responded by saying that crews have been working double shifts, seven days a week to correct the problem. Read the full story HERE

Swallows nesting beneath the Petaluma River Bridge appear to be out of danger, according to a Caltrans statement released Tuesday. Caltrans spokesman Robert Haus said that biologists continued to inspect the netting draped beneath bridge decks on the State Route 116 Interchange and the Petaluma River Bridge on U.S. 101.

Birds had found openings in the netting and were becoming trapped late last week. Read the original Press Democrat story about it here.

“Working immediately and throughout the weekend, the contractor pulled the nets tight eliminating the gaps, and the needless loss of birds appears to have stopped,” Haus said. Biologists employed by Caltrans said those efforts appear to have solved the problem but said they would continue monitoring the site

“We don’t want another bird to die,” said Caltrans spokeswoman Tamie McGowen. “That’s why we have the nets up in the first place.”

The $77 million project will replace the existing Petaluma River Bridge with a new, wider structure that will eventually accommodate new HOV lanes.  It will also eliminate nine access points, reconstruct the Petaluma Boulevard South interchange, and construct or widen 2.5 miles of frontage roads.  A separate $26 million project will widen the southbound State Route 116 separation bridge, and replace the northbound State Route 116 separation bridge.

Tree-cutting answers

Still curious about the trees that were cut alongside U.S. 101 at Airport Boulevard and Fulton Road? Caltrans sent along the following graphic that answers all the basic questions.

Why leave the stumps? Contractors were waiting for the dry season rather than disturbing the topsoil during the rainy season.

Total number of trees removed at the Airport/Fulton intersection and for the Windsor sound walls: 680, including 333 oaks, 304 redwoods, 21 Tree of Heaven, 14 pine, 7 fir and 1 eucalyptus. Once the construction is complete, workers will plant 200 trees around the new interchange, 700 willows along Mark West Creek, and another 1,260 trees at Cresta ranch, which is owned by the Sonoma County Agriculture Preservation and Open Space District.

Why they were removed: For safety’s sake, anything within 30 feet of the new road’s edge was cut.

Read all the answers by clicking on Tree Removal Facts.

Follow the Road Warrior on Twitter at @PDRoadWarrior.

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  1. Sheri

    Birds are still dying in the so-called repaired nets. This announcement is premature. Please check with Veronica Bowers of Native Songbird Care and Conservation for the latest information. She’s been monitoring the birds’ suffering and dying daily.

    April 17th, 2013 7:15 am

  2. jody hampton

    Since they put up those nets at the Square Dance hall in Sebastopol the bug problem has gotten worse. Why would you not want swallows on your property to eat mosquitos?

    April 17th, 2013 7:15 am

  3. Robert

    We have 6 redwood trees on our lot, but trees are dangerous on the side of a freeway… How many people have died hitting a tree just off the pavement on Hwy 101??

    April 17th, 2013 7:41 am

  4. Veronica Bowers

    Forgive me, Road Warrior, but you have been duped by Caltrans once again. CC Myers Inc., the company doing Caltrans’ dirty work, claims “they worked all night Saturday” fixing the netting. However, Sunday evening and Monday evening, birds were documented and photographed caught in the netting. The atrocity continues and Caltrans and CC Myers continue to violate the state and federal laws the protect our native Cliff Swallows. Please do your community a favor and verify your information before you publish it. Do not by complicit by assisting Caltrans in sweeping this matter “under the bridge”.

    April 17th, 2013 8:43 am

  5. Anna

    Please do a little investigation and do not assume that these press releases are accurate. The netting is still there and is still trapping birds, even a raptor who was attracted by the struggling birds. That Coopers Hawk managed to escape but untold numbers of birds, mostly migratory swallows, have not been so lucky. This is a traditional nesting site and there are not appropriate alternatives nearby.

    April 17th, 2013 9:07 am

  6. Becky

    This is not true. The birds are still getting trapped and dying. Either Caltrans and CC Myers are really stupid and think their nets are working, or they’re lying to the public. The need to go back to the drawing board and find a new way to “protect” the birds, but first they need to remove the nets immediately. This is a blantant, disregard for these birds lives and it’s unsconscionable.

    April 17th, 2013 10:52 am

  7. Ken Wilson

    Accepting information from Caltrans at face value without verification would make the Road Warrior a “Road Passenger”, or perhaps a “Road Potato”, hardly someone I would pay attention to. I suspect that the “biologist” hired by Caltrans is more familiar with the behavior of lizards than Cliff Swallows.

    April 17th, 2013 1:56 pm

  8. Elizabeth

    When we first moved here in 1974, one of the things that impressed me most about the area was that they had landscaped the sides of the freeway with Redwood Trees. I thought this must be a wonderful place where they value God’s extraordinary big trees so much that they plant and care for them along the road. CalTrans has massacured 100′s of those treesand no one really seems to be upset about it. Has the world changed so much that we turn a blind eye to such wanton destruction?

    April 17th, 2013 8:08 pm

  9. Road.Warrior

    The Road Warrior is a community forum designed to objectively disseminate the information we receive daily and to give readers the chance to discuss it. That includes printing reader questions and answers received from Caltrans, CHP, judges, engineers, police officers and all the other entities responsible for Sonoma County’s traffic and road systems. Sometimes that also includes sharing press releases. For investigative reporting on these topics, keep reading the fine Press Democrat reporters whose job it is to critically assess these issues.

    April 18th, 2013 8:11 am

  10. Maggie Rufo

    Nice cop out answer there Road Warrior!

    April 18th, 2013 1:44 pm

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