Where are wildlife crossings in use or in progress?
Interstate 90 in Washington boasts impressive wildlife crossings, with over- and under-crossings providing safe passage for wildlife of all sizes, from moose to salamanders.
Arizona is home to the nation's first "wildlife crosswalk," a high-tech system on State Route 260 that recognizes animals approaching a stretch of road, then informs drivers so they can slow down. It’s been 97% effective in reducing collisions with elk and deer on that stretch of road.
In Utah, more than 700 animals per year use the wildlife bridge at Parleys Summit along Interstate 80. And Wyoming’s Kemmerer Highway 189 Wildlife Crossing is underway to protect mule deer herds and other animals.
Last year, Los Angeles broke ground on the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Overcrossing, which will span 10 lanes of Highway 101 to create a safety corridor between the Santa Monica Mountains and areas to the north. It will be the world’s largest wildlife overpass, and P-22’s story helped raise the money to construct it.
Last September, California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, signed the Safe Roads and Wildlife Protection Act (A.B. 2344), into law, paving the way for more wildlife crossings. The new law has bipartisan support and requires agencies to identify barriers to wildlife movement and prioritize crossing structures when building or improving roads. After its passing, the legislature approved nearly 1 billion dollars in new funding to pay for these crossing structures.
It also directs state agencies to develop a project list for areas where wildlife crossings could reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and enhance connectivity. Citizen science can help too; the California Roadkill Observation System, for example, lets anyone collect and report roadkill data, which informs these types of lifesaving projects.
“These tragedies are preventable if California invests in more wildlife crossings, which protect both wildlife and people from dangerous collisions,” says J.P. Rose, an attorney and policy director for the Center for Biological Diversity, in a press release from the center. “For decades we’ve been building roads that slice through habitat and block animals’ movement. Now we know better, and we’re finally taking the necessary steps to improve connectivity and make roads safer for people and wildlife.”