Thousands of animals including mule deer, elk and bear are now able to safely cross a busy highway in Colorado thanks to a transportation solution designed to help protect wildlife and vehicles from highway collisions.
Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), in cooperation with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and many other partners, recently implemented Colorado’s first-of-its-kind wildlife overpass and underpass system on Highway 9 between Green Mountain Reservoir and Kremmling. This innovative solution to keeping wildlife off a busy road resulted in a 90 percent reduction in wildlife-vehicle collisions in the first year.
The nearly 11-mile stretch of road bisects important wildlife habitat and movement corridors, specifically, mule deer and elk winter range. Prior to the project, there was an average of 63 wildlife carcasses recorded along this stretch of road each winter, 98 percent of which were mule deer. Wildlife-vehicle collisions accounted for 35 percent of all reported crash types from 2007-2011, according to CDOT. The Highway 9 wildlife safety improvement project was designed to improve driver safety while allowing for wildlife movement across the road.
This project includes:
Following the first year of construction, which began in April 2015 with four wildlife crossing structures complete by the following December, monitoring efforts showed more than 7,000 mule deer movements between December 2015 through March 2016 using
all four crossing structures, a success rate between 82 and 98 percent. Other animals using the structures include pronghorn, black bear, moose, elk, bobcat, coyote and red fox.
In November 2016, CDOT completed construction of the southern half of the project which included an additional wildlife overpass and two wildlife underpasses. CDOT, CPW and
ECO-resolutions will continue the effectiveness monitoring through winter 2019-2020.
CO 9 Colorado River South Wildlife & Safety Improvements - CDOT
State, federal and private wildlife and transportation groups met this week at Colorado's inaugural "Wildlife and Transportation Summit." Inspired by the success of the wildlife crossing project on Highway 9 in Grand County, the 2-day event focused on developing a statewide action plan to improve highway safety and to protect the state's wildlife resources. Similar wildlife crossings, like those used on Highway 9, are being considered in other areas of the state to provide safe travel for motorists and wildlife alike.