CDOT to build more wildlife fencing along Highway 82 | AspenTimes.com

CDOT to build more wildlife fencing along Highway 82

Aspen Times Staff Report
Aspen, CO Colorado

Post Independent fileAn electronic sign warns motorists of migrating elk herds along Highway 82 between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs last winter. New wildlife fencing will be stalled along a four-mile stretch this fall.

GARFIELD COUNTY – The Colorado Department of Transportation will soon begin installing wildlife fencing along a stretch of Highway 82 south of Glenwood Springs that sees a high incidence of wildlife-vehicle collisions.

The project, to begin Monday, Sept. 14, will include the installation of about 15,869 linear feet of 8-foot-high fence on the west side of the highway, between mile markers 7 and 11, in the Aspen Glen area between Carbondale and Glenwood in Garfield County. It will also complete the fencing – about a mile’s worth – on the east side of the highway along this stretch.

The project will also involve construction of six wildlife escape ramps on the west side and two on the east side. The escape ramps provide deer and elk that are trapped within the wildlife-fenced highway right of way with a better means to cross back over the fencing to escape the highway and vehicles. The earthen ramps are 6 feet high and constructed into a cut-out in the fence, on the highway side. Animals can run up the one-way ramp and jump back down to safety.

(The first of these escape ramps were built in 2006 along the wildlife fence on U.S. Highway 550 near Ridgway State Park in southwest Colorado. CDOT has been investigating the effectiveness of the ramps; video and still-camera images have shown that it is being used, according to the agency.

Finally, the Highway 82 project will also involve construction of deer guards (like cattle guards, but longer) at several accesses along the west side of Highway 82. CDOT is coordinating with the Colorado Division of Wildlife in implementing the mitigation projects.

This stretch of Highway 82 experienced 39 wildlife-vehicle collisions in 2005 – the most recent data available, according to the agency. A sign placed along the stretch last winter, however, read “100 hit on CO 82 annually.” The sign didn’t specify whether that tally was for the entire length of the highway or some segment of it.

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Total accidents on the stretch in 2005 numbered 63, so they accounted for 63 percent of all accidents that year, according to CDOT. In 2000, there were seven wildlife-vehicle collisions in the four-mile section out of 31 accidents overall, so wildlife was involved in 32 percent of all accidents.

“The percentage of wildlife-vehicle collisions is certainly rising in this area, particularly with increases in traffic and development,” said Pete Mertes, CDOT Region 3 traffic and safety engineer in a press release. “We’re glad to be getting this project under way right before peak migration season; and we’ll work to obtain further funding for additional fencing along this corridor.”

The fencing project was contracted to Waterford Corp. for $423,810, paid for with federal hazard elimination funding secured by CDOT. Work is scheduled for completion by Nov. 24. No lane closures are planned, but shoulder closures will be in effect as the project progresses. CDOT encourages motorists to drive with caution and slow down in the work zone.

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