Large-scale construction projects can sometimes have unexpected consequences. In San Francisco, construction of a subway system in North Beach has caused a substantial upsurge in the number of rats seen on the streets and in residents’ homes.
North Beach residents report seeing large numbers of rats in area streets, especially at night. Others report increased rat problems in local businesses and in the basements of residences, according to NBC’s Bay Area affiliate.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health states that the majority of rat-related complaints have come from the area around Washington Square Park, which is near one of the active construction areas of the Central Subway Project.
The San Francisco subway construction is intended to connect area neighborhoods with an expanded light rail system. Though the transportation improvements are expected to be a boon to North Beach, the increase in rodent problems is creating concerns for public health and safety while the project is underway. Construction workers themselves are also at risk from increased exposure to the rodents.
The city has placed traps and sealed holes where there is evidence of rat activity. However, these measures have not been completely effective.
Officials have so far been unable to explain why rats are more plentiful and active at this later stage of the subway construction. Rat activity is usually most apparent during the early portions of a large building project, notes San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) representative Kristen Holland.
Holland states that the city performed rodent abatement work at the start of the Central Subway Project, which should have been sufficient to keep down rat populations while limiting rodent sightings and infiltrations in homes and businesses.
A number of ongoing smaller projects may be enough to keep the rats active, the news report suggests.
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