ARCHULETA COUNTY, Colo. — Colorado's newest wildlife overpass and underpass are now open between Durango and Pagosa Springs.
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) said the new wildlife overpass and underpass on U.S. Highway 160 will make the road safer for motorists and wildlife by reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions.
CDOT said in a release that more than 60% of all crashes in the project area are due to wildlife-vehicle collisions. CDOT predicted wildlife-vehicle collisions in the stretch will decrease now by 85%.
The construction project began in March 2021. CDOT recently held a ribbon-cutting celebration atop the wildlife arch over the highway in Archuleta County.
In addition to an overpass and underpass, the project includes two miles of eight-foot-tall exclusion fence, earthen escape ramps, a deer guard and eight-foot-tall gates.
Partners in the project included CDOT, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Mule Deer Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Federal Highway Administration, and the Colorado Wildlife & Transportation Alliance.
"Nineteen years ago the tribe deployed its first set of GPS radio collars on mule deer," said Aran Johnson, Southern Ute tribal wildlife biologist. "The results of those collars hinted at the importance of this particular spot and stretch (of roadway) as a migratory crossing point (for big game) on Highway 160."
"This crossing not only improves safety for our state’s wildlife ― animals like mule deer, elk, and bears ― but it secures protection for Coloradans in their vehicles," said Marlon Reis, Colorado’s First Gentleman.
CDOT said it has built more than 60 wildlife mitigation structures crossing above or under highways throughout Colorado.
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