A bed of Eastern pond m ussels was successfully moved out of harm's way from under Kent's Harvey Redmond Bridge after about four hours of snorkeling and noodling in the Cuyahoga River Friday.
The mussel relocation effort was headed by Stow-based EnviroScience Inc., which found 22 of the species underneath the bridge and moved them about 100 meters upstream into their optimal habitat of a stable sandy gravel bottom with moderate water flow, said Marty Huehner, a senior scientist and project manager for EnviroScience.
"It went as planned and we had some extra help from experienced people, so that really helped," Huehner said. "It was a really good day and the sunshine really helps with the visibility in the water."
Huehner said the presence of the mussels in the Cuyahoga River is an indicator of "really good water quality," and he believes the mussels under the bridge were displaced from a larger population upstream.
Kent Parks and Recreation Director John Idone said the successful relocation of the endangered mollusks was the first step to replacing the deteriorated 1940s wooden bridge with one made of concrete and steel.
"This was a necessary step, and with the restrictions and high water we previously had on the river, we're glad to get it done and over with and ready to start construction," Idone said, adding that the wooden bridge will likely be removed in early September.
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 costs to replace the bridge are estimated at $1.35 million. The Ohio Department of Transportation is funding 80 percent of the project and the city of Kent is matching 20 percent.
The replacement bridge will be able to bear 30 tons, compared to the 6-ton limit of the current wooden bridge..
The project is expected to finish by June 30, but Kramer Ball Field could likely open in May.
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