US grants $110 million to improve wildlife road crossings

The Biden administration announced Tuesday that $110 million will be awarded to improve wildlife road crossings across the United States in hopes of reducing deadly crashes involving animals and cars.

The Transportation Department’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced that the $110 million in grants will be awarded to 19 wildlife crossing projects across 17 states and includes four Indian Tribes. The department said that the funding will go toward projects that will construct wildlife crossings near busy roads, add fencing and use tracking and mapping tools.

“Every year, too many Americans are injured or killed in crashes involving cars and wildlife, especially in rural areas – but President Biden is tackling this challenge through these first-ever roadway safety grants,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “The projects we’re funding today in 17 states will reduce collisions between drivers and wildlife and save American lives.”

There are an estimated more than one million collisions involving large animals and vehicles every year. The department said these crashes result in about 200 human deaths and 26,000 additional injuries each year.

The department noted that this funding is part of a new program in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which also makes $350 million available over five years to allocate to the Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program.

“We are pleased to announce the first round of grants under the Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program to projects that will significantly reduce the number of collisions between motorists and wildlife,” Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt said in a statement. “These roadway safety investments will ensure that motorists and wildlife get to their destinations safely and are a win-win for safety and the environment.”

Some examples of projects that this funding will support include allocating $24 million to Arizona for its Kelly Canyon Wildlife Overpass Project, which will construct nearly 17 miles of fencing and other safety measures along Interstate 17. Wyoming will also receive $24.4 million to build overpasses, underpasses and fencing along 30 miles of a rural highway in the state.

Colorado, California and Pennsylvania are also among the states to receive the funding to protect multiple animal species and vehicles from collisions. The department said that the Stillaguamish Tribe in Washington State will also receive $8.5 million to build a wildlife overpass on a rural highway in Skagit County.

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