MAY 20, 2004 - Posted at 11:30 a.m. CDT
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO - Not far from Cape Girardeau's shiny new Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge, the rickety, rusting 76-year-old structure it replaced remains standing.
The old bridge will eventually come down, but only after the end of the spawning season for the pallid sturgeon, a fish with a long, pointed snout that lives at the bottom of the murky Mississippi River.
The fact that the endangered, federally protected fish has been spotted near Cape Girardeau will force a demolition contractor to work around the spawning season. That spawning season ends around the end of May, but debris can't be dropped into the river before August 1.
Scientists hope the restriction will help protect the fish, particularly any fingerlings that might be living along the river bottom.