Nineteen projects in seventeen states will share $110 million from the United States Department of Transportation to make roads safer for animals and reduce the number of wildlife accidents. About 200 people die, and 26,000 others are injured every year as a consequence of wildlife-vehicle crashes in the US involving big animals like deer. These accidents cost over $8 billion. According to Shailen Bhatt, the Federal Highway Administrator, the resources for animal crossings are “focused at a very genuine safety risk.”
He said that one initiative in Arizona involves monitoring the movement of elk using GPS data. Funded by the $1 trillion 2021 infrastructure plan, the initial grants are part of a $350 million initiative lasting five years. There were requests for $550 million from the federal government.
Nearly 17 miles of new wildlife fence will be constructed in Arizona with the help of $24 million. This fencing will link current culverts, escape ramps, and double livestock guards along the Interstate-17 corridor, creating more habitat connectivity for mule deer and elk. Along thirty miles of US189, Wyoming will get twenty-four million dollars to construct an overpass, several underpasses, and a wildlife fence. The two most significant towns in Colorado, Denver and Colorado Springs, were awarded $22 million to construct an overpass on I-25.
Large animals, including moose and black bears, need a safe way to traverse the Green Mountains, and Vermont is receiving $1.6 million to fund the construction of a wildlife underpass crossing. U.S. traffic fatalities have risen sharply since the epidemic; in 2021, for example, the toll reached 42,915, the highest year total since 2005, an increase of 10.5%.
Projects selected for this round of grants include the following:
-The Interstate-17 (I-17) Wildlife Overpass Project in Arizona will receive $24 million
-A network of overpasses and underpasses along 30 miles of US 189 in southwest Wyoming will receive $24.4 million
-A dedicated overpass on Interstate 25 between Denver and Colorado Springs will receive $22 million
-A wildlife overpass on State Route 20 in Skagit County, Washington, will receive $8.5 million