Pigeon Proofing a Railway Bridge in Salisbury
Fisherton Street Bridge in Salisbury has had a pigeon problem for over 40 years and has become notorious for its vast population. Many attempts have been made over the years to stop pigeons roosting under this structure, all without success. Rapid Environmental Services were asked to propose a solution that would prevent pigeons from roosting in the bridge and defecating on the pathways below, but also the solution had to be cost-effective regarding installation and ongoing maintenance and entirely effective.
Pigeons had made this their home, and the population has increased dramatically over the last few years. Constant Fouling and slip hazards have had residents and locals complaining for years. The bridge structure had become completely covered in guano and nesting birds and was posing a health issue as well. One problem faced was that the bridge is in constant use and is one of the main streets into the city so any work could not disrupt this road.
The challenges faced were:
- Installing a highly effective deterrent which will stop birds attempting to use this structure
- Providing an almost maintenance free solution as access to the bridge is limited
- Removing the nest and cleaning all fouling from the structure, relocating all the chicks without harming them
- Installing a system in a short window of opportunity – working at night with limited road closures to limit disruption
- Dealing with Highways England, Wilts CC and Network Rail coordinating our activities to ensure no delays or disruption to services and inconvenience to passengers and motorists
Rapid Environmental Services are very familiar in dealing with the list of requirements above, so a solution utilising weld mesh was designed and approved for this structure. Rapid has installed many systems using weld mesh but the design and installation of the system is critical to its success. The system is very effective and requires little or no maintenance, and has a very long life, making it ideal for this structure.
Road Closures were negotiated to ensure minimum disruption during the cleaning and installation of the new system. We worked with local Wildlife Protection volunteers who assisted in the relocation of the chicks and removal of the nests. Work was carried out overnight, ensuring the road could be opened up again the next morning.
The bridge had many nesting areas which were cleaned and sprayed to neutralise the pathogens. Once the area was cleaned and clear of pigeons, the mesh could be installed. As we had to be totally mobile, we utilised van-mounted cherry pickers to access the bridge structure, thus negating the need for any onsite storage for machines and materials.
After each shift, the mesh was closed off to ensure no birds could get back into the structure already cleaned and protected, allowing us to progress the next night knowing all birds were out of the structure. As part of the installation, we also protected the gutter and drain sections to ensure they could not be blocked in the future with guano.
The installation took 5 nights to complete and there was very little disruption to the public.
The bridge is now totally free of any pigeons and the area below the bridge can now be cleaned and restored without fear of it being covered in guano. Over 60 chicks were successfully relocated and no birds were harmed in the protection of this structure.
Both the client feedback and that of the general public using the bridge was very positive, particularly about the design of the solution and the manner of installation, satisfying all prerequisites of the project.