By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

In recent weeks, a trio of large trees were removed from the south side of Claggett Creek Park drawing the attention of city residents on social media and calls to the local newspaper.

The trees have been removed to make way for the next big construction project on the docket of Keizer Public Works: a reconstruction of the bridge that passes over Claggett Creek on Dearborn Avenue Northeast.

The project isn’t scheduled to begin until May 1, but the trees had to go earlier for an unusual reason, said Bill Lawyer, Keizer Public Works Director.

“The trees needed to come down because of compliance with the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act,” Lawyer told members of the Keizer City Council at a meeting in March.

Essentially, if protected migrating birds had the opportunity to build nests in the trees while making their way north for the spring and summer seasons, it could have delayed the project or increased costs incurred through relocating them.

The replacement of the Dearborn bridge will create a hiccup in traversing the core of Keizer for the summer months and possibly into the early fall.

“The contractor schedule begins May 1 and runs to the middle of September, but it might be closer to the beginning of October,” Lawyer said.

Motorists will be advised to avoid the area beginning June 1 when in-water work will begin. Lawyer said the contractor, Salem’s K&E Escavating, is being encouraged to keep access to the south parking lot of Claggett Creek Park for as long as possible.

The Dearborn bridge, Keizer’s last wooden bridge, was constructed in 1964 with an expected lifespan of about 75 years. Increases in population and the resulting traffic have shortened its expected life.

The main issue is that the existing bridge is an old wood structure that has reached the end of its life,” Lawyer said.

In advance of the bridge replacement, a storm drain pipe is being realigned from Verda Avenue northeast west to Claggett Creek itself.

About seven homes are expected to be impacted along the construction site, but residents will continue to have access.

Other travelers would be wise to seek out new routes to their destinations. A few years ago, when the roundabout at Chemawa Road Northeast and Verda was being constructed, motorists who were caught disobeying the road closure were hit with fines of more than $400 per occurrence.

“This is going to be a little more difficult because equipment will block the way,” Lawyer said.

K&E’s winning bid for the project amounted to $1,753,615.30. Lawyer said the financing for the project will all come from the local level, but it will require taking out a loan.

“We’re looking at a 15-year note and payments will come out of the street fund,” he said.