12:06pm

Sat June 1, 2013
Environment

Wildlife Overpasses May Be Constructed In Colorado

Wildlife over and underpasses, like this one in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada may be constructed in Colorado.
Credit Qyd / Wikimedia Commons

A Colorado Department of Transportation project plans to build wildlife overpasses and underpasses to help reduce vehicle and wildlife collisions.

The 'Highway 9 Safety Project' will be along a 10.6-mile stretch of Highway 9 in Grand County, between Green Mountain Reservoir and the Colorado River near Kremmling.

According to CDOT, wildlife collisions in this area have led to nearly 600 vehicular accidents in the last 20 years, including 16 human fatalities and almost 200 injuries. Thirty-five percent of the collisions were wildlife related. In addition, there have been nearly 450 animals killed - mostly mule deer - in the last eight years alone.

The plan calls for the construction of two overpasses and five underpasses designed specifically for wildlife.

According to CDOT, “safety improvements to be made to the stretch of roadway … include widening and adding eight foot shoulders, improving roadway alignment to bring up to current design standards, straightening severe roadway curves, flattening steep hills with lower sight distance, making access/intersection improvements, and implementing wildlife mitigation strategies such as fencing and underpasses/overpasses to allow wildlife migration and to reduce wildlife/vehicle collisions along this section of highway.”

Transportation officials say an estimated 3,600 vehicles, including 290 trucks travel on Highway 9 each day. The number of vehicles is expected to continue to rise.

CDOT recently created RAMP or the Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships in order to help local governments fund projects like the Highway 9 Safety Project, which is expected to cost $46 million.

RAMP stipulates that local governments provide 20 percent of the total project costs. Grand County must secure $9.2 million to qualify the Highway 9 safety improvements for RAMP consideration.

Wildlife over and underpasses are already in use in Canada and many European countries.