Since the construction of roadways can sometimes disrupt the natural migration paths of wildlife, wildlife crossings have been constructed above and below certain Nevada roadways. In 2012, the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) launched a multi-phase wildlife crossing project on I-80 to help provide safe passage for wildlife migrating across the interstate.
Located approximately 18 miles west of Wendover, the project area was carefully examined by NDOT and was found to be a critical wildlife migration area and concern for motor safety. 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 the thousands of mule deer that migrate across the highway each fall.
Before the project commenced, NDOT hired the University of Nevada (UNR) to investigate the overpasses on US 93 and they documented tens of thousands of crossings by mule deer during migratory periods. Additionally, a few thousand crossings by other species were documented including coyote, badger, red fox, bobcat, elk, pronghorn, rabbits and domestic livestock. Furthermore, a cost-benefit analysis was completed and final calculations ended up around 1.6.
"Anything above a 1 indicates a benefit, so it is my understanding that a 1.6 is a good result," stated Nova Simpson, Environmental Scientist III with NDOT. "The research on US 93 has helped Nevada secure funding for future endeavors and is the main reason why we were able to construct this I-80 overpass at Silver Zone."
This wildlife crossing utilized 2 - 66’ x 26.5’ E66T BEBO® Concrete Arch systems, 200’ in length, with precast modular components, one on each side of the two-lane highway. BEBO was the chosen solution for the wildlife crossing due to its low cost, ideal aesthetics, wide clear span and small footprint. Funding for the $2.75 million highway project was provided by federal safety funds.
To complete the project, fencing was installed on both sides of the highway in order to encourage the mule deer and other wildlife to utilize the safety of the overpass structure. The next phase along I-80 will add two more large overpasses to the east and west sides of Pequop Summit and is scheduled to break ground during the construction season of 2016. This final phase will address the major problem areas for a particular population of migratory mule deer.
Protecting wildlife continues to be a priority for NDOT and the I-80 wildlife crossing is helping to successfully fill an important safety goal.