In late 2009, a multi-phase project was launched by the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT), the Federal Highway Administration and local Native American tribes. One of the key objectives was to preserve and protect the wildlife in the area and to decrease the number of automobile accidents caused by animals such as elk, deer and bears crossing the highway.
This particular crossing utilized a BEBO® Concrete Arch system with precast modular components. Not only is the 54-ft. span wide enough to accommodate a two-lane highway but it is also wide enough to include two 6-ft. bikeways, one on either side.
“In this area, we chose to go with the overcrossing structure because we had fairly intact tribal lands on either side of the highway route, and it was an area in the past where we had seen quite a bit of wildlife mortality” said Dale Becker, Wildlife Program Manager with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
Contech has been a big part of this initiative. Almost every major product from the company is represented in different phases of the $150 million highway project. Initiated in October 2004, the project was primarily funded from federal capitalization and 20-year bonds from the state of Montana.
A Keystone® Retaining Wall System was used to create an aesthetic and consistently aligned facade while Tensar® was utilized for subgrade improvement under the footing.
Fences over 8-ft. in height will surround the area and encourage bears and other wildlife to utilize the overpass. According to design discussions published in 2000, the overpass is at the “best possible location for linking grizzly bear populations to the east with the Bitterroot grizzly bear recovery zone to the west”
Protecting wildlife remains a priority and this structure is helping to meet and fulfill that goal.