For ODOT director, some federal laws difficult to swallow

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: April 26, 2011
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These cliff swallows nest here from April to August, which is ODOT's busiest construction season. But the experience in Ellis County is fresh on the agency's mind, even as important projects await. Ridley cited two bridges on Interstate 40 west of Oklahoma City that are structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. ODOT has been gearing up for more than a year to have them replaced.

Ridley has no doubt there will be swallows under those bridges. If the nesting schedule of the birds bumps up against the work schedule of the highway crews, then costly delays are likely. “That to me is unacceptable,” he told the World.

He's right, of course, but good luck trying to convince the feds — particularly this administration — of that. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services says there's only a problem if birds are killed during a project. It advises states to plan ahead, and to remove nests before or after breeding season.

There's no permit needed to do that. Perhaps that'll cheer Ridley up a bit. If not, who could blame him?

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