City Of Bartlesville Faces Delays In Starting Bridge Rehabilitation Project Due To Endangered Species

The city of Bartlesville says bats are no stranger to the city, but they weren't expecting to find mussels when they started to work on the Tuxedo Bridge.

Tuesday, January 23rd 2024, 9:26 pm



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A bridge project in Bartlesville is facing more delays because there could be bats and mussels, which are protected and endangered species, in the area.

The city of Bartlesville says the next step is to send divers into the Caney River to see if there are mussels inside. But that can't happen until warmer weather.

They also need to locate the bats that might be living under the bridge.

The city of Bartlesville says bats are no stranger to the city, but they weren't expecting to find mussels when they started to work on the Tuxedo Bridge.

"The mussels were a surprise. That's not something I was anticipating,” Micah Siemers, Director of Engineering, said. “Seeing the bats, I understood the bats."

An inspection was done about four years ago that uncovered deficiencies in the bridge, so they decided to fix it with funding from a geo bond package. 

"We've been working on design with the consultant right now in conjunction with we're required for 404 permits to the US Army Corps of Engineers," said Siemers.

If divers do find mussels in the Caney River, the city will have to send a plan to the US Army Corps of Engineers and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to find the best way to relocate them.

"They use it to try to relocate far enough upstream that they find these mussels relocated to another area that they’re theoretically not going to wash into your project," said Siemers.

Divers must wait until summer to go into Caney River to look for the mussels, so that delays construction even more.

"They don't permit you to do that in high water type situations,” Siemers said. “So, springtime when you could have highly aligned water flows and whatnot, they would rather have you wait to do that until dry season."

If their survey shows bats are under the Tuxedo Bridge, they could still start work on the bridge once the mussels are removed.

"We can do some of the work like bank stabilization things of that nature that are really going to affect the mussels. We can potentially go ahead and start work before the end of bat season, which is November 15, and then move to the bridge deck," said Siemers. 

They don't know yet how much these surveys to look for the bats and mussels cost or how long they will take. They do hope to start fixing the bridge by the end of fall and have it finished by the fall of 2025.

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