Stop me if you’ve heard this joke before:

Question: How many hummingbird eggs does it take to bring the wheels of a major metropolitan infrastructure renovation to a grinding halt?

Answer: One.

Did you laugh? It isn’t really a joke, but some people may have involuntarily snorted while reading that.

The Richmond-San Rafael bridge is ready for some vital renovations. A bike path is being added to the upper deck to allow bicycle traffic to flow in both directions and the lower deck is getting a third lane to ease intense traffic congestion. The equipment and barriers are all in place and work was ready to resume, but suddenly halted after a single hummingbird’s nest with one egg was discovered on the bridge. 

Randy Rentschler, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission said, “In this particular case a bird’s nest was found.”

Not just any bird – but a protected bird under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act – and one with an egg waiting to hatch.

Rentschler said, “Hummingbirds are on the list so the followed the rules.”

“A single Hummingbird nest with an egg is going to cost us a couple of weeks,” Rentschler said,

Rentschler said he doesn’t know how much it will cost.

The state of California (particularly the Bay Area) has some of the most restrictive environmental policies in the country. Rentschler says that much needed renovations to the Bay Bridge have also been on hold because of nesting birds and fish, to the tune of over $10 million in taxpayer money.

Maybe someone needs to remind the environmental lobby that would halt human progress and slow down the productivity of struggling San Franciscans for a hummingbird egg that it’s just a clump of cells.