WYDOT approves $9.7M for deer underpasses, antelope overpasses
- GREEN RIVER, Wyo. — Last March, the federal government declined to fund the
construction of more wildlife-friendly underpasses in southwest Wyoming,
including an ambitious effort to install the structures at the historic antelope
migration bottleneck near Pinedale known as Trappers Point.
Last week, Wyoming's Transportation Commission stepped up and allocated nearly
$10 million for the Trappers Point project, according to state officials.
The Trappers Point project will be the Department of Transportation's largest
wildlife underpass effort to date. It comes on the heels of two other successful
underpass projects in Lincoln and Carbon counties in recent years.
Cheyenne's Reiman Corp. submitted the low bid of $9.7 million to install six
wildlife crossing underpasses and two overpasses on a 12-mile section of U.S.
Highway 191 in Sublette County.
The underpasses will be installed in the Trappers Point area beginning about 3
miles west of Pinedale and running to about 5 miles north of the highway's
junction with U.S. Highway 189.
The underpass structures are specifically designed for migrating big game
animals. The aim is to reduce animal-vehicle collisions along the busy migration
Highway officials say that each year about 1,800 motor vehicle collisions with
wildlife are reported on Wyoming roadways, causing an average of 149 injuries
and two human deaths annually.
In the summer of 2008, the state installed six deer underpasses along U.S.
Highway 30 in Lincoln County's Nugget Canyon west of Kemmerer. In 2009, the
agency installed another underpass along State Highway 789 north of Baggs in
WYDOT webcams show the wildlife underpasses have been successful, moving
thousands of deer, elk and antelope safely across the highways.
The Trappers Point underpasses will be designed primarily to get migrating deer
safely across the highway, according to plans.
The two overpasses will serve migrating antelope, which biologists say are
reluctant to use the underpasses.
Every year, hundreds of antelope spend the summer in Grand Teton National Park
in western Wyoming, then follow a historic migration route south about 125 miles
to winter in the Red Desert.
Historic and archaeological evidence indicates that the animals have traveled
the same migration route for more than 6,000 years.
But increasing development, new subdivisions, fences and energy projects have
squeezed part of that route into several narrow bottlenecks such as Trappers
Point, which now threatens the antelope's yearly migration.
In March, federal officials denied the state's application for $100 million in
federal economic stimulus funding for the agency's “wildlife connectivity” plan.
The plan included the construction of 30 or more of the underpasses in some of
the heaviest big game migration corridors in Wyoming.
Part of the plan was installation of eight crossing structures and various deer
fencing in the Trappers Point area.
During its December meeting, the Transportation Commission awarded contracts
totaling $41.9 million for nine highway projects around the state, including the
Trappers Point project.
The Trappers Point contract completion date is Sept. 30, 2012.
Contact Jeff Gearino at gearino@... or 307-875-5359.
Posted in Wyoming on Tuesday, December 14, 2010 11:45
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