Why did the wildlife cross the interstate? Because it had a lush landscaped bridge to do so.
On Tuesday, Washington State Department of Transportation crews broke ground on the state’s first animal overpass, a 150-foot wide-bridge surrounded by native trees and planted with vegetation designed to let bears, elk, otters and even mice pass over the ever-busy I-90 expressway.
The $6 million critter crossing will be the first of more than 20 planned overpasses and underpasses spanning the landscape along Washington’s central Cascade Mountains, designed to let wandering animals get across a 15-mile stretch while 28,000 cars whiz by every day.
Four underpasses are already open and game cameras have caught video of animals from river otters to deer crossing under the highway.
Florida, Montana and other states have built similar animal crossings and America’s northern neighbor built 44 of them along the Trans-Canada Highway. The number of collisions with animals dropped by 80% by the time the Canadian project was finished.
The National Forest Service manages the land and has been pushing for something like this for years–as have state conservationists. Forest Rangers say the project will reunite wildlife populations divided by the highway, allowing animals to more easily find food, homes and even mates, which would broaden the gene pool for rare species.
(WATCH the video below or READ more at the Seattle Times) Image – WSDOT rendering
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