The Colorado Department of Transportation recently began work on the I-70 Genesee wildlife-crossing project, one of several I-70 Floyd Hill projects to improve both highway safety and traffic flow ahead of construction on the $700 million main project.
[Above image by Colorado DOT]
The I-70 Genesee wildlife-crossing project consists of a dedicated wildlife underpass going under I-70 between the exits for Lookout Mountain and Genesee. Additionally, crews will place wildlife fencing along both east and westbound I-70 that extends from the Genesee Exit to the Lookout Mountain Exit.
The agency noted that this area has the highest number of wildlife-vehicle collisions on the I-70 Mountain Corridor east of the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel.
“The new underpass at I-70 Genesee is the first major wildlife crossing to be constructed along the I-70 Mountain Corridor, and it will allow wildlife to safely cross underneath the interstate at a location which has historically been a hotspot for wildlife related crashes,” said Colorado DOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew in a statement.
“Reducing animal-vehicle conflicts and improving wildlife connectivity is a major element to the overall improvement of travel time reliability, safety, and mobility in the I-70 Floyd Hill project area,” she added.
The plan calls for construction of two new I-70 bridges, followed by excavation under those bridges to create the wildlife underpass. Once the underpass is complete, crews will install the wildlife fencing. Altogether, bridge and underpass construction should wrap up by the spring of 2024.
To date, Colorado DOT has built more than 60 wildlife mitigation structures crossing above or under highways throughout the state. Additionally, it has installed 400 miles of high big game fencing along state and U.S. highways or next to the interstates.
In August, the agency completed the state’s newest wildlife overpass and underpass on U.S. Highway 160 in the southwestern part of the state.
In October 2021, Colorado DOT and the Colorado Parks and Wildlife agency completed wildlife underpasses along a rural stretch of Interstate 25 between Colorado’s two largest cities, Denver and Colorado Springs.
That wildlife mitigation system is part of a $419 million transportation improvement project – known as the I-25 South Gap project – that aims to improve safety and travel on 18 miles of I-25 south of the Denver metropolitan region; a route that more than 87,000 motorists use on a daily basis.