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Wildlife Bridge to Break Ground in 2022

Thursday, October 21, 2021

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The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) expects to break ground in January 2022 for California’s wildlife overpass, which will connect various parts of the Santa Monica Mountains and create a safe passage for local native species.

The $87 million bridge, recently named the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, is reportedly critical to saving an isolated population of mountain lions in the region from extinction, as well as providing other native species better access to food and potential mates.

The project will likely go out to bid next month with construction set to begin in late January, said Sheik Moinuddin, a Caltrans project manager. The project will be divided into two phases: the first will cover the area across the 101 Freeway, and the second will cover the two-lane stretch across Agoura Road.

“This is an unprecedented project that Los Angeles should be incredibly proud of,” said Beth Pratt, Regional Executive Director in California for the National Wildlife Federation. Pratt, who has reportedly been working on the project for almost a decade, added that when the project began, "it was just an idea."

The bridge is scheduled to reach completion in October 2023, officials report.

The project will set a worldwide model for what is possible in terms of coexistence in urban places between wildlife and humans, Pratt said, adding that the purpose of the bridge is to reverse the effects that fragmented landscapes have had on wildlife, including low genetic diversity and roadkill.

To date, the wildlife crossing has raised over $72 million from private and public organization donors. The National Wildlife Federation hopes to reach their campaign goal by the end of the year to cover construction costs.

About the Project

In 2019, officials were finalizing designs and engineering in the third phase of the crossing’s project.

Proposed designs for the project revealed a 165-foot-wide by 200-foot-long bridge, slated to be constructed at the 101 Freeway’s 33-mile marker. The bridge will stretch over 10 lanes of traffic, which reportedly see some 300,000 cars a day, and include an extension over nearby Agoura Road.

Covered in sound- and light-blocking barriers—made of high-edged berms and hollows—architect Clark Stevens hopes the topography on the infrastructure will be indistinguishable from the surrounding scenery. His design plans to cover eight acres of landscape, with the bridge making up just one of them.

The unique infrastructure is estimated to be the biggest of its kind in the world.

Originally inspired by Southern California’s native wildlife—particularly mountain lions, as they’ve seen genetic diversity shrinkage having been confined to smaller habitats surrounded by freeways and developments—the National Wildlife Federation, partnering with the Santa Monica Mountains Fund and a large community of supporters, created the #SaveLACougars campaign to raise funds for a wildlife crossing.

According to the campaign’s webpage, in 2015 a $250,000 project study report was funded by the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority. Three years after the study, a $1.5 million environmental assessment followed.

According to Rob Ament, a road ecology program manager at Montana State University’s Western Transportation Institute, under- and overpasses can reduce mortality rates and monetary costs associated with wildlife-vehicle collisions by 85-95%.

   

Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Bridges; Bridges; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Environmental Protection; Funding; Infrastructure; Latin America; National Park Service; National Park Service; North America; Ongoing projects; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Z-Continents

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