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Nesting bald eagles have prompted the delay of the bridge rebuilding project near Longmont, while local officials try to comply with federal regulations protecting endangered species. / Matthew Jonas AP

LONGMONT, Colo. (AP) - Nesting bald eagles have prompted the delay of a bridge rebuilding project near Longmont while local officials try to comply with federal regulations protecting endangered species.

Boulder County Transportation director George Gerstle said Thursday it may be August or September before the eggs are hatched and construction can begin.

Boulder County said it is complying with the U.S. Endangered Species Act requirements for such projects in order to ensure that the Federal Highway Administration will reimburse Boulder County for most or all of the estimated $4 million it's expected to cost to design and build a new bridge over the St. Vrain River.

The previous bridge was washed out in last September's floods.

The new bridge is being designed now, and if it weren't for the presence of the nesting eagles, "we'd be ready to go this spring," Gerstle said.

The delay will cost the county an estimated $300,000 to $400,000, but once the eagles leave the nest, "we'll go into an expedited construction schedule," he said.

Weld and Boulder counties jointly own the segment that Weld calls Weld County Road 1 and Boulder County calls East County Line Road, but Boulder County has been responsible for maintaining that segment and making improvements on that stretch of road, including the bridge that crosses the St. Vrain River.

Boulder County officials hope the bridge will qualify for 100 percent reimbursement funding from the Federal Highway Administration, the Longmont Times-Call reported Friday.

In the meantime, work is underway the Left Hand Water District to replace about 700 feet of water line along the highway east of Boulder County that was destroyed by the flood.

Left Hand manager Chris Smith said Thursday that the 25 to 30 customers in the area have been getting served with Longmont city water under an arrangement between the district and the city.

Smith said his agency was aware of the nesting eagles' presence and got the necessary state and federal permits to do the water line work while in the eagles' neighborhood. He said the district has had a biologist on site to monitor the construction project.

Smith said installation of the replacement line, which is costing an estimated $360,000 to $375,000, is expected to be completed in about two more weeks.



Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read the original story: Eagles delay Longmont-area bridge construction

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