The aging Hunter Station Bridge in Tionesta needed to be replaced, yet complications stood athwart the project. A bridge closure was not possible as it would leave the travelling public with a 42-mile detour. The Allegheny River posed another problem. During the Industrial Revolution in America, most of the mussel populations were killed due to degraded water quality. Yet near the Hunter Station Bridge, the area remained rural and undeveloped, allowing for pristine water quality and a healthy ecosystem for the mussels. Thus the mussels would need protecting during a bridge replacement effort
For four months and at a cost of $25 million, PennDOT and partners successfully salvaged, tagged, and moved more than 90 percent of the mussels in the direct impact areas of the bridge project. They were relocated to streams in six other states as well as other streams in Pennsylvania. In the end, not only did PennDOT build a new, structurally-sound bridge for residents to avoid a very long detour, it included perhaps one of the largest conservation efforts for a single species in North America – an innovative project all around.