The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has made $110 million in grants available for 19 wildlife crossing projects in 17 states, including four Tribes.
The funding comes from the new Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program (WCPP), which supports projects that protect wildlife from being struck by vehicles. Projects include wildlife crossings over and under roadways, adding fencing and employing tracking and mapping technology.
More than 1 million vehicle-wildlife collisions are estimated to occur in the United States each year, resulting in approximately 200 human fatalities and 26,000 injuries. The economic costs of those crashes – estimated at more than $10 billion each year – include loss of income, property damage and medical bills.
“These roadway safety investments will ensure that motorists and wildlife get to their destinations safely and are a win-win for safety and the environment,” Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt said in a press release.
This round’s biggest award, $24.4 million, will help the Wyoming Department of Transportation build five underpasses, one overpass and install high-barrier wildlife fencing along 30 miles of U.S. 189 in the southwest part of the state.
The Kemerer Wildlife Crossing Project was conceived as a solution to the area’s long-standing wildlife migration problem, resulting in an average of 80 deer-vehicle collisions each year. Construction of a nuclear power facility in the area is expected to increase traffic along U.S. 189 between the towns of Kemmerer and Evanston.
The Colorado Department of Transportation will use $22 million to build a six-lane overpass on Interstate 25 between Denver and Colorado Springs. The Greenland Wildlife Overpass will connect habits on both sides of the highway and help reduce vehicle collisions with elk and mule deer. Once completed, it will be one of the largest overpasses in North America.
The California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) will receive $8 million to reduce collisions and connect animal habitats in state park lands along the state’s picturesque Highway 101. Improvements will include increasing the size of an existing culvert and installing 2.5 miles of fencing at road crossings.
Other WCPP recipients include the Arizona Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Stillaguamish Tribe in Washington State.
Photo courtesy of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department