Two state agencies recently committed a combined $2.5 million toward installing wildlife crossing along US 189 in southwest Wyoming – what’s known as the Dry Piney project – to help reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions.
[Above photo by the Wyoming Migration Initiative.]
The Wyoming Transportation Commission approved a $1.25 million match of the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission’s $1.25 million contribution that will go towards the first phase of the Dry Piney project, which is expected to cost approximately $5.5 million.
During the first phase, crews will install underpasses and fencing along a 5-mile stretch of US 189 between mile markers 86 and 90.
“This area of Wyoming has one of the highest rates of mule deer vehicle collisions,” noted Mike Larson, Wyoming Transportation Commission chairman, in a statement. “This project would not only help improve habitat connectivity and help conserve mule deer migrations, but also make it safer for motorists.”
The total cost of all three phases of the Dry Piney project – which will help the Wyoming Range mule deer herd as well as pronghorn and moose movement – is expected to be between $12 million and $36.5 million.
As a result, the Wyoming Department of Transportation has applied for more than $18 million in Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development or BUILD funds to build additional underpasses with fencing along that corridor because, between mile markers 77 and 105 on US 189, about 117 wildlife-vehicle collisions are reported each year.
“We are committed to ensuring the state’s roads are as safe as possible for the traveling public,” said Shelby Carlson, Wyoming DOT’s chief engineer. “The work will provide safe passage for wildlife to cross under US 189, keeping motorists safer. These underpasses allow wildlife to cross the roads without encountering traffic or fences and allows them to travel their historic migratory routes.”
“By partnering together, we can ensure vital projects like Dry Piney get started to help mitigate wildlife-vehicle collisions,” added Luke Reiner, Wyoming DOT’s director. “Wildlife mitigation is something we will continually be working on to ensure our roads are as safe as possible for the traveling public.”