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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) — The migratory barn swallows have moved on and contractors now are racing to finish turning a historic bridge into a pedestrian park in downtown Columbus.

The small barn swallows are a federally protected species and have stalled road and bridge projects in dozens of places across the South by nesting in culverts and other dark places. They stalled work on the restoration of the 100-year-old Highway 82 bridge over the Tombigbee River when they nested under it this summer.

The city and county are turning the bridge into a pedestrian park and walkway linking downtown with the area known as “The Island.”

The small birds have moved on and contractors say they hope to have painting, lighting and decking finished by early October. That would be after the September deadline called for in the contract but the deadline will be extended because of the bird delay.

Meanwhile, work on new roads linking the nearby downtown soccer complex to Main Street could be completed by November.

And a $600,000 project to connect the Riverwalk and the soccer complex by a walkway and bridge under Main Street should start next March and be finished by this time next year. Design work could be completed and bids let by the end of this year.

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