FHWA Issues $110M in Wildlife Crossing Project Grants

The Federal Highway Administration recently issued $110 million in grants to 19 wildlife crossing projects in 17 states, including four projects overseen by Native American tribes.

[Above photo by the Arizona DOT]

According to a statement, FHWA said its data indicates there are more than one million wildlife vehicle collisions in the United States annually, with wildlife-vehicle collisions involving large animals resulting in approximately 200 human fatalities and 26,000 injuries to drivers and their passengers each year.

Those collisions also cost the public more than $10 billion annually, according to FHWA; a figure that includes the total economic costs resulting from  wildlife crashes, such as loss of income, medical costs, property damage, and more.

[Editor’s note: The video below shows how wildlife crossings also helps preserve the animal populations in rural areas of the country.]

This is the first round of funding from the five-year Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program, a $350 million program created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Projects selected for grants in this round of funding include:

  • The Arizona Department of Transportation will receive $24 million for the Interstate-17 (I-17) Munds Park to Kelly Canyon Wildlife Overpass Project. The project includes nearly 17 miles of new wildlife fencing tying in existing culverts, escape ramps and double cattle guards to reduce wildlife vehicle collisions along I-17 while increasing habitat connectivity for local species, particularly the elk.
  • The Wyoming Department of Transportation will receive $24.3 million to build an overpass, several underpasses, and high-barrier wildlife fencing along 30 miles of US 189 in the southwest part of the state; a rural highway corridor with a high number of wildlife-vehicle collisions.
  • The Colorado Department of Transportation will receive $22 million to build a dedicated overpass on I-25 between Denver and Colorado Springs – the state’s two most populous cities. 
  • The California Department of Transportation will receive $8 million to reduce wildlife vehicle collisions and connect animal habitats between protected State Park lands on either side of US 101. Improvements include increasing the size of an existing culvert and installing 2.5 miles of fencing at road crossings, allowing for safer roads for drivers.
  • Pennsylvania will receive $840,000 to develop a comprehensive statewide strategic wildlife crossing plan with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Pennsylvania Game Commission, and others.

FHWA noted that projects funded by this program reduce wildlife crashes, which will reduce the associated economic impact while simultaneously improving habitat connectivity to sustain the environment and improve the overall safety of the traveling public.

Meanwhile, state departments of transportation have already been working on a variety of wildlife-vehicle collision prevention initiatives over the last several years.

For example, to date, Colorado DOT said it 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 2022, the agency completed a wildlife overpass and underpass on U.S. Highway 160 in the southwestern part of the state; a stretch of road where more than 60 percent of all crashes are due to wildlife-vehicle collisions.

Concurrently, a research document released in July 2022 by an international pool funded study led by the Nevada Department of Transportation provides an “authoritative review” of the most effective measures to reduce animal-vehicle collisions, improve motorist safety, and build safer wildlife crossings.

Winners Named in KYTC Adopt-A-Highway Art Contest

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet recently saluted the 12 student winners of its 2023 Adopt-A-Highway Art Contest; winners were chosen from a pool of 900 entries statewide from students aged five to 18.

[Above image by KYTC]

The agency said this annual contest not only allows students to showcase their artistic talents but helps promote the important message of keeping roadsides free of litter.

“We’re thankful to have young and talented Kentuckians lend a hand at sharing an important message to encourage us all to do our part to keep Kentucky beautiful,” said Governor Andy Beshear (D) in a statement.

“Litter-free roadsides do more than protect our scenic byways; they also keep harmful materials from washing off roads and sidewalks and into our drinking water,” added KYTC Secretary Jim Gray. “We’re grateful to have students be part of the solution of maintaining a clean and safe environment.”

KYTC said the top finishers in each of the four age divisions for the 2023 contest – which centered on the theme “Can it, Kentucky” – will receive a $100 gift card, while second- and third place finishers will each receive a $50 gift card. First through third-place recipients for all age groups will have their pieces displayed at the KYTC Office Building in Frankfort, KY.

State departments of transportation across the country use a variety of student-focused contests and programs to engage elementary- through high-school students in roadway litter reduction efforts.

For example, the Missouri Department of Transportation is now accepting entries from students in kindergarten through 12th grade to participate in the agency’s 2024 “Yes You CAN Make Missouri Litter-Free” trash-can-decorating contest.

The contest – part of MoDOT’s annual “No MOre Trash!” statewide litter campaign, held annually in April – encourages school-aged kids to join in the fight against litter by decorating a large trash can with the “No MOre Trash!” logo and a litter prevention message using a variety of creative materials. Schools, or home school programs, may submit one trash can entry in each competition category: grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8 – and new this year is grades 9-12.

First-place winners from each competition category receive $200 awarded to the sponsoring schools. All first-place winners are then eligible for a grand prize of $600 and a trophy awarded to the sponsoring school. There is no entry fee for the contest, MoDOT noted in a statement, and participating school groups must submit a completed entry form online with up to three photos and a release form by March 15.

State DOTs also engage in other initiatives to remove trash and debris from the roadways under their jurisdiction.

For example, the Mississippi Department of Transportation recently launched a new anti-litter webpage as part of a renewed statewide anti-littering campaign that kicked off in August – a “one-stop hub” that contains information about the state’s Adopt-a-Highway program, Mississippi litter statistics and resources, stormwater pollution information, anti-litter resources for school teachers, and much more.

Then there is the Tennessee Department of Transportation, which recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of its “Litter Grant Program.” That program – started in 1983 – provides funding to all 95 counties within the state to pay for a wide variety of litter-related efforts, such enforcement; cleanup and recycling events; and litter prevention education campaigns.

Meanwhile, in April, the Illinois Department of Transportation launched a new public outreach effort called “Think Before You Throw!” as part of its ongoing awareness campaign to reduce littering on state highways and roads.

The “Think Before You Throw!” initiative aims to reduce roadside litter along the state’s more than 150,000 miles of roads by raising awareness of the negative environment impact of trash, for both state residents and the nearly 100 million tourists who visit annually, the agency said.

And, in March, the Maryland Department of Transportation launched “Operation Clean Sweep Maryland,” a new initiative that seeks to nearly double the frequency of litter pickup and mowing efforts along state roads.

This new effort – which began in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., regions – is under the purview of the Maryland State Highway Administration, one of Maryland DOT’s modal divisions.

Environmental News Highlights – December 13, 2023


Stop, Look, Listen: Engaging Communities to put Equity into Action -AASHTO’s ETAP Podcast

FTA Offers $343M for Transit Accessibility Projects -AASHTO Journal

AASHTO Comments on FEMA Floodplain Rulemaking -AASHTO Journal

House Panel Advances PIPES Act, Targeting Pipeline Safety -Transport Topics

CEQ Announces New Net-Zero Government Initiative Countries Joining U.S. to Cut Climate Emissions from Government Operations -White House (media release)


Michigan governor directs state government vehicle fleet to go electric -Detroit News

Congress provided $7.5B for electric vehicle chargers. Built so far: Zero. -Politico

Massachusetts to Remove 8 Aging Dams for Water Quality, Flood Mitigation, Safety -AP

Virginia Approved Big Changes To Transportation Funding. Advocates Worry It’ll Hurt Transit And Bike Projects -DCist

Colorado Governor releases “Road Map to a Future Colorado 2026” focusing on housing, transportation -CBS News Colorado

New York MTA board approves congestion pricing plan -Spectrum News

As Hertz and Avis adopt EVs, airports like DFW race to expand electric grids -Fast Company


Florida declines $320 million in federal money for emissions program, claims overstepping authority -WOKV Radio

World carbon dioxide emissions increase again, driven by China, India and aviation -AP

Tweed New Haven Airport Expansion Takes Heat From Top Federal Health Official -CT Examiner

2 decades of air quality gains in western U.S. wiped out by wildfires -Tucson Sentinel

Joint Statement by the U.S. Department of Transportation and Transport Canada on the Nexus between Transportation and Climate Change -USDOT (media release)


Center for Rural Pa. study shows issues getting transportation grants -The Bradford Era

Administration Unveils First-Ever Strategy to Advance Environmental Justice for Communities That Rely on the Ocean and Marine Resources -White House (media release)


What 400 years of Boston transit history tells us about the MBTA’s future -WGBH Radio


New underpass will allow bikers, pedestrians to safely cross popular Oconomowoc, Wisconsin highway -WDJT-TV

Proposal seeks to keep walkers moving, safe on Las Vegas Strip overpasses -Las Vegas Sun

Chicago Mayor, CDOT Cut Ribbon on Central Park Avenue Pedestrian and Bike Safety Improvement Project -City of Chicago

NYC approves new measure for citywide noise cameras to crackdown on loud cars -WABC-TV


Resilience Research Becoming a Bigger Part of Transportation Planning -TRB

Limitations to sustainable renewable jet fuels production attributed to cost than energy-water-food resource availability -Nature Communications


Travel Management; Administration of the Forest Transportation System; Post-decisional Administrative Review Process for Occupancy or Use of National Forest System Lands and Resources; Land Uses; Special Uses -Forest Service (Final rule)

Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail Advisory Council -Forest Service (Notice of meeting)

Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC and Northern Natural Gas Company; Notice of Availability of the Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Pelto Area Abandonment ProjectFederal Energy Regulatory Commission (Notice)