Work on St. Croix bridge delayed after zebra mussels found on barges

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Work on a new St. Croix River bridge near Stillwater was held up by the discovery of zebra mussels on half a dozen construction barges that were trucked in for the project.

A spokesman for the Minnesota DNR tells the Pioneer Press the mussels were dead and were discovered before the barges hit the water. The DNR is investigating and could pursue charges against the contractor for transporting an invasive species.

The Pioneer Press reports the contractor, Ed Kraemer & Sons, Inc., had transported eight barges across Wisconsin to the site of the new St. Croix crossing. Four of the barges came from Milwaukee and four from the Fox River in Oshkosh. The newspaper reports the hulls of the barges had been treated with hot water but had not been scraped.

The St. Croix, which is a National Scenic River, has been gaining ground in its fight against zebra mussels. Earlier this spring the National Park Service announced the numbers of the invasive species have dropped dramatically on the river.

After years of debate and planning, work on the new bridge just started last week.

A Maple Grove contractor, C.S. McCrossan, has filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the work. McCrossan is suing the Minnesota Department of Transportation, maintaining it was unfairly removed from the project. MnDOT filed its response last week, saying the suit has no merit and could add a couple of years to the construction timetable.

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