First phase of mussel relocation for new bridge complete

Mussels on rock (ThinkStock)

Mussels on rock (ThinkStock)

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — Crews have completed the first phase of a project to move freshwater mussels as part of the construction of the new Interstate 74 bridge across the Mississippi River, linking Iowa and Illinois.

The Quad-City Times reports that the first phase, which began in August, was completed in early November. Teams of divers combed the bed of the Mississippi River for mussels. They were identified, and in some cases, tagged for future identification before being returned to another part of the river.

Fish and wildlife specialist Heidi Woeber says about 140,600 mussels were moved, including 886 that are federally protected. The second phase of the project will take place before demolition of the existing span, which is expected to happen in four to five years.

Construction of the new bridge is expected to begin in 2017.