- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 1, 2016

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) - The first of an estimated half million mussels are expected to be relocated from the Mississippi River at the beginning of July as part of the Interstate 74 bridge project.

Officials told the Quad-City Times (https://bit.ly/20TbnHy ) that divers will remove the mussels from the water and organize them before taking them to one of several new locations.

Planners hope to begin the relocation on July 5 since water levels are lower in the summer. The removal is expected to take about 60 days.

Builders are currently preparing to install 14 piers that will support the new span.

Most of the work to remove the mussels will be done close to the Illinois shoreline, but some will also take place on the Iowa side. The two states have set aside $5 million to remove the mussels, but an Iowa Department of Transportation official says it’s likely to cost $3 million to $3.5 million.

Mary Kay Solberg, a senior environmental specialist with the transportation department, said the estimates are based on a 2014 survey of the area and that officials will have more specific number when they begin work.

“This is going to be one of the largest mussel relocations in U.S. history,” Solberg said.

The transportation department reviewed the potential impact of the bridge project on seven mussel species in a 151-page biological assessment finished last month. Three of those species - the Higgins eye pearlymussel, the Sheepnose mussel and the Spectaclecase mussel - are listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But only 2,400 of the 500,000 mussels expected to be relocated are one of those three species.

Mussels are valuable because they monitor and purify aquatic systems, feed on algae, plankton and silts, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


Information from: Quad-City Times, https://www.qctimes.com

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