JACKSON COUNTY, Kan. (KSNT)– A major construction project along U.S. Highway 75 has been on hold for nearly two months, but it’s not because of a worker shortage or pandemic-related issue. Swallows, a protected bird species, are to blame for the delay.
The birds were found nesting in structures near the area where crews were working. Transportation officials said they had to wait for the birds to fledge the nest before making any more progress on the highway. The area affected is about eight miles north of the K-16 and U.S. 75 intersections.
The project started in May and the plan is to add passing lanes on U.S. Highway 75 in Jackson and Brown counties. There hasn’t been any movement on the project for six and a half weeks due to the Swallows.
Heidi Baumgartner, who lives in Seneca, hopes the road gets fixed soon. She believes the road is dangerous after losing family members in a car crash on the highway over three years ago.
“My sister-in-law and my niece and my brother-in-law and her brother-in-law were all killed in a car accident on that road due to a passing error on the lady’s part,” Baumgartner said. “There were charges filed and court and the whole thing. So now all that gets brought back up every time something like this happens. It seems like you take some steps forward and then you take a lot of steps backward.”
Now that the birds are gone, Baumgartner hopes the project will be finished soon in order to prevent something like this from happening again.
State transportation officials said they plan on resuming the project next week.