By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog
LINCOLN, Neb. — The board overseeing Lincoln’s new arena next week will consider spending more than $300,000 to cover half the cost to “pigeon-proof” a nearby bridge.
The three-member West Haymarket Joint Public Agency will vote Thursday on whether to put up half the nearly $600,000 cost of pigeon-proofing the Harris Overpass so the poop-dropping pests will stay out of the girders.
The city has been battling pigeon poop in the historic Haymarket District for years. In 2005, the city’s pigeon population was estimated at 3,000 and climbing. Now, it appears, city officials are concerned enough about pigeons pooping on cars and people streaming to the new $186 million Pinnacle Bank Arena to drop another $600,000 on the pigeons’ heads.
The amount of pigeon poop dropped on buildings and under the bridge to downtown Lincoln was such a concern that when the city rebuilt the Harris Overpass in 2008, it purposely pigeon-proofed the east side of the bridge by making its underbelly flat on the east end, near the Haymarket’s historic buildings and their customers. But the west side (over railroad tracks) was built normally, with beams the birds can land on.
Apparently, the city wants a do-over, since now there’s parking under the part of the bridge that isn’t pigeon-proofed.
The arena board will consider a resolution that would split the costs with Lincoln, since the work will “equally benefit the JPA and city.”
The city’s project manager for the bridgework, Kris Humphrey, said the city would extend decking from Seventh Street to just west of Arena Drive.
“Previously this was private land, so we stopped the decking at Seventh Street,” she said via email, referring to land previously owned by railroads, which was bought by the city for the $376 million West Haymarket development.
She said the city would not have saved money by pigeon-proofing the whole bridge at once.
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