Dead snake stops BART project again

The Associated Press
Monday May 13, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO – An endangered garter snake has stalled construction on the Bay Area Rapid Transit extension to San Francisco International Airport for the second time. 

State wildlife officials ordered work stopped Thursday after a worker found a dead snake. Another snake was found dead last fall. It stopped construction for 18 days and cost BART $1.07 million. 

The snake’s death was investigated Friday, but officials from BART and the state Department of Fish and Game said they did not anticipate a long halt in construction. 

“We are working with BART to make sure they are sensitive to issues concerning the garter snake,” said Robert Floerke, regional manager for the department. 

The garter snake lives in wetlands and grasslands near water that support large frog populations. The largest remaining population lives near the airport. The snake has red, black and yellow stripes. Its belly is green and blue. 

Because the snake is endangered, snake trappers caught as many of the reptiles as they could find. Special fences were then built to keep other snakes out of harm’s way. Biological monitors also were hired to watch out for the snakes. 

After the first snake was found dead, workers were given special training to recognize the reptile. A 5 mph speed limit also was posted and workers were required to check under vehicles for the snakes if they had been parked more than five minutes. 

“While the snake is brilliant blue, it doesn’t look brilliant blue sitting on the road,” said Molly MacArthur, project spokeswoman. “It can look like a stick.”