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If you’ve lived in Colorado long enough, you’ve likely found yourself stopping for—or swerving out of the way of—a deer, moose, or elk. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), more than 3,000 wildlife-vehicle collisions have been reported each year for the past decade. In an effort to curb these deadly (and costly) accidents, CDOT is trying a new approach: wildlife crossings—manmade features that connect habitats across roadways while separating the animals from traffic. (Having a hard time visualizing it? These Google images should help.)
Grand County, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and Blue Valley Ranch have teamed up to launch a $39.2 million capital improvement project along 11 miles of State Highway 9, which runs between Kremmling and Silverthorne, to help avoid animal-vehicle accidents. They’re setting up seven wildlife crossings (a mix of underpasses and overpasses) that follow animals’ natural routes, encouraging them to cross over or under the highway rather than walk straight across. Why here? The stretch of highway has among “the most animal-to-vehicle collisions in the state,” says Tracy Trulove, a regional communications manager for CDOT.
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The first phase of the project (one overpass, pictured top; and three underpasses, pictured at right) were completed in November. They are the first of their kind in Colorado. The second and final phase begins in April.
It goes without saying that you always need to be alert when driving on our mountain roadways. But these novel crossings hopefully mean you can still see our beautiful wildlife—without the fear of running straight into them.