Endangered mussel relocation effort underway in Kent today

By Kyle McDonald | Staff Writer Published:

The time has come to relocate a bed of Eastern Pond Mussels dwelling in the Cuyahoga River underneath Kent's Harvey Redmond Bridge. The day-long project will take place today to ensure the endangered species isn't harmed when construction begins to replace the deteriorating wooden bridge, which has been closed since April 2011.

"This is the first step along the way to allow the contractor to proceed," Kent Parks and Recreation Director John Idone said. "We had (the relocation) scheduled for a few weeks back and then we had all that rain and the river rose, so we're very excited to get it going now."

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Kent has contracted Stow-based EnviroScience, Inc. to facilitate the mussel move, which also will be overseen by two Ohio Department of Natural Resources-approved freshwater mussel experts.

READ PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Mussels add to delay of bridge construction in Kent

The portion of the Cuyahoga River will be sectioned into a grid of five square meter cell. Each cell will be searched for 15 minutes plus an additional 10 minutes if more than 10 mussels are found.

The 10 minute search will repeat until no more mussels are found in the section. The mussels will be placed in a similiar habitat about 100 meters upstream.

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The cost of the project is $5,500, which is 80 percent funded by ODNR and 20 percent by Kent Parks and Recreation.

With mussels in the clear, Idone said the $1.35 million replacement bridge work will likely begin at the start of September with the removal of the 1940s wooden Harvey Redmond Bridge that leads to Kramer Ball Field.

The current bridge, which has a six-ton limit, has deteriorated from the debris and friction of the Cuyahoga River.

In 2009, Kent applied for grant funds to replace it, but was denied. In 2010, the city reapplied and was approved for funds from this year's cycle, but after an April 2011 inspection showed that one the bridge support piles could collapse, the city closed it until it could be remedied.

The replacement bridge will be constructed from steel and concrete and will be able to bear 30 tons.

The project is expected to finish by June 30, but the ball fields could likely open in May, Idone said.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1127 or kmcdonald@recordpub.com

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