On Highway 550, just south of Montrose, Colorado, a wildlife crossing was needed to provide safe passage for migrating wildlife. This portion of U.S. 550 follows the Uncompahgre River which flows north from the San Juan Mountains and is bordered to the west by the Uncompahgre Plateau and to the east by the slopes leading up to the Cimarron Mountains.
This area encompasses important winter and summer habitat for mule deer and elk, and provides dispersal and forage habitat for other wildlife such as mountain lions, bobcats and black bears. The main goal for the wildlife crossing is to restore the connectivity for these species to travel and to significantly reduce animal-vehicle collisions (AVCs) in the area.
“Due to a high wildlife-vehicle collision rate with deer and elk, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) wanted to install an underpass with an opening of approximately 30’ wide by 16’ high,” stated Steven Cross, P.E., Resident Engineer with CDOT.
After CDOT reviewed various alternatives, they selected a 30’ x 16’-6” BEBO® Bridge Concrete Arch System, 78’ in length, with precast modular components. The size of the structure was carefully selected so that all migrating species could safely travel under the busy highway. The BEBO system provided the opportunity to phase construction in order for one lane of the two-lane traffic to remain open throughout the construction process. The first half of the structure was installed in June 2012, and the second phase was installed in August 2012. Setting the precast arches, headwall and wingwalls was accomplished in a little over a day for each phase.
“The arch was installed quickly, easily and is a high quality structure,” added Cross. “From a design submittal standpoint, the designers at Contech Engineered Solutions did a good job working with CDOT to meet all of the requirements. I hope to have the opportunity to work with them again in the future.”
Protecting human lives and wildlife remains a priority and this structure is helping to meet and fulfill that goal.