Cumberland Times-News

December 11, 2012

Dropping the subject: SHA will not expand pigeon nets

Michael A. Sawyers
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — The Maryland State Highway Administration will not expand the use of pigeon netting during the renovation of the Interstate 68 bridge across Cumberland, according to a spokeswoman.

A two-year renovation of the Crosstown Bridge will begin in January.

At a recent coordination meeting, Downtown Mall Manager Ed Mullaney asked the SHA to consider installing pigeon netting beneath the bridge in locations above public parking lots, citing complaints from the public about pigeon droppings and feathers.

Currently, the only netting is above the parking lot at Roy Rogers Restaurant.

“The overhead bridge is a haven for pigeons,” Mullaney told the Times-News on Monday. “If SHA is involving everybody in this project, then let’s take the ideas and do it right. It is a health issue, too.”

On Tuesday, though, SHA spokeswoman Heather Keels said more netting won’t happen.

“When it comes to pigeons, netting isn’t a good solution, particularly for a large setting,” Keels said. The netting will stay at Roy Rogers, but it would cost between $1 million and $2 million for the whole bridge. according to Keels.

It is impossible to justify that cost, she added.

In addition, inspections every two years would require removal of the nets.

“If there is a problem with netting, birds can get trapped inside,” Keels added. “Litter getting caught in the netting is another concern. Anything that falls through a bridge joint can get caught up in the netting where it is hard to clean out.”

Brian Dicken, environmental health director for the Allegany County Health Department, said the risk of disease from feral pigeons is low for a person with a normal immune system.

“Pigeon droppings harbor certain organisms and can be bad for already sick people or those with suppressed immune systems. But those with normal immune systems who have day-to-day contact, such as on a balcony at their house, are not in danger.”

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.