Cameras Show Utah’s I-80 Wildlife Overpass Is Working. Now Let’s Build More of Them
More animals in the wild and fewer collisions with motorists. Sounds like a win-win.
Every time I see a dead animal on the side of the road, one whose check-in at Critter Heaven has been accelerated courtesy of a motor vehicle, I can't help but feel bad and wonder if we'll ever come up with a better way for wildlife to cross busy roads? Luckily, here in central Indiana you won't hit anything bigger than a small deer or overweight goose—but in other states, the critters get bigger, heavier, and much more dangerous, posing even greater risks to motorists. Luckily, folks in Utah have come up with a solution to keep wildlife and humans safer, and its Division of Wildlife Resources recently released a video of a Wildlife Overpass doing exactly that.
Initially reported by Utah's KUTV2, Utah's first wildlife overpass is fulfilling its promise of allowing animals of all sizes to cross the busy Interstate 80 at Parley's Summit without endangering themselves or human lives. A video shared by the state's Division of Wildlife Resources on Twitter shows everything from small chipmunks to bears, coyotes, porcupines, and even large moose using the bridge to safely continue their pre-determined journey.
The overpass, which is 48 feet wide and 330 feet long, was opened to the... errr.. public animals back in December 2018, and it reportedly came at a cost of $5,000,000, per CBS2. It's unclear if this money came from a state or federal agency's budget or if the funds were raised privately, but regardless, I'd dare say that it's a good investment, especially when 46 deer, 14 moose, and four elk were killed on that stretch of road in 2016 and 2017 alone, per CBS2.
Each one of those collisions not only takes a toll on cars, insurance companies, the city, the state, and other parties involved in maintaining public roads, but there's also a human toll. It turns out, hitting a moose or elk isn't exactly safe for humans—even in big SUVs.
The State of Colorado employs a similar overpass on Colorado Highway 9, reports KRDO, and the Colorado Department of Transportation is reportedly working with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to create additional overpasses.
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