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MARBLE FALLS — One final hurdle for the Texas Department of Transportation to use explosives to demolish the old U.S. 281 bridge in Marble Falls is cleared.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department authorized the use of explosives March 5 for a 60-day period beginning March 4.

Previously, the Lower Colorado River Authority granted permission to use explosives between March 17 and April 8.

For now, officials plan to implode the metal frame left on the bridge about 8 a.m. March 17.

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The written authorization from TPWD involved a few requirements of TxDOT, such as allowing TPWD personnel access to the site, the ability to delay or reschedule the use of explosives, notice of the exact date and time of the implosion 48 hours in advance and measures to minimize the impact on fish and wildlife.

One of those measures will include “shocking” fish below the bridge and moving them downstream before the implosion. The process, called electrofishing, is just as it seems. Biologists use the method to temporarily stun fish in the water, which causes them to float to the surface. Once scooped into large nets, the fish will be placed into tanks on the boats and then placed downstream and out of range of the implosion.

“We’ll release them without any harm to the fish,” said contractor Archer Western project manager Eric Hiemke. “We’ll do that the day of the steel (bridge) blast and the day of the pier blast.”

Hiemke, along with other representatives from Archer Western and TxDOT, addressed the Marble Falls City Council during its regular meeting March 5.

A state-threatened shellfish, the Smooth pimple back mussel, also has been found in Lake Marble Falls near the bridge. Hiemke said during the council meeting that after biologists spent nearly four hours in the water and covered about 35 percent of the affected area under the bridge, none of the rare mussels were found.

jared@thepicayune.com