Bridge project threatens rare mussel
Madison – A bridge replacement project over the La Crosse River could result in the “incidental taking” of a mussel listed on the state threatened species list.
The bridge replacement is part of the causeway construction of Highway 108 in La Crosse County, and the state-threatened Buckhorn mussel could be affected. The state Department of Natural Resources is preparing to permit the state Department of Transportation’s “incidental taking” of the mussels that may result from causeway construction.
The existing Highway 108 bridge over the La Crosse River will have to be removed prior to the construction of the new bridge. WisDOT needs to build a temporary causeway to remove the existing bridge deck and piers.
A single state-threatened Buckhorn mussel was found at the bridge site in 1999. However, the site’s aquatic habitat is of poor quality and contains only a small number of common mussels that do not represent a diverse or abundant mussel assemblage.
DNR endangered resources staff determined that efforts were made to minimize impacts to the species; the taking is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence and recovery of state populations of the Buckhorn mussel and the action has benefit to the public safety that justifies the action.
The DNR is expediting the public comment phase because the occurrence of the Buckhorn mussel at this site was reported late in the project’s permit review process and the anticipated impact to the listed species is very low. Meanwhile, WisDOT is holding construction until the project is authorized.
WisDOT augments contractor Web site
The state Department of Transportation added a new component to its contractor extranet Web site that allows companies to view payment information on projects dating back to 1998.
After obtaining an ID and password, contractors can look at and download past payment vouchers, as well as past bid letting reports and information. Dave Castleberg, in WisDOT’s Bureau of Highways, said the extranet is meant to be a “one-stop shop” for contract information, and the bureau has pulled together items that had been scattered on WisDOT’s public site and its password-protected bidding site.
The ability to view vouchers, he said, should allow everyone involved in a project to stay up to speed on payment questions.
“It provides information to subcontractors and suppliers to see when their items of work are completed,” Castleberg said. “It will help contractors keep in tune with the prompt payment issue.”
The site is available at www.dot.wisconsin.gov/business/engrserv/bid-letting-information.htm.
Comments sought on $8.4 billion job
The Army Corps of Engineers will next week field public comments on its massive $8.4 billion plan to restore and manage the Upper Mississippi River.
The June 9 meeting in La Crosse is one in a series of forums the Corps of Engineers has planned for the Upper Mississippi area, which runs from Cairo, Ill., to St. Paul, Minn. The Corps has proposed a 50-year project to better manage the 37 locks and dams along the 1,200-mile route.
Gov. Jim Doyle has asked the Corps to strike a balance between the river’s commercial and recreational uses. Doyle added that the outcome of the Corps’ final plan will be “profoundly important” for the entire region.
The Mississippi River is the third-largest drainage basin in the world and drains 41 percent of the nation’s water.
The meeting begins at 2 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel in La Crosse.