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Where Wild Travelers Can Play it Safe

Monday, April 1, 2013

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Today's highway planners may not care why the chicken crossed the road, but they can tell you how he reached the other side in one piece.

The answer, increasingly, is an "eco-bridge"—a wildlife crossing custom-made for deer, bears, wild boar, crabs (and perhaps a stray chicken or two) to get over busy roads and highways.

While the concept of these eco-bridges isn't new (The Netherlands has been credited as an early pioneer), they are gaining in popularity with transportation officials and environmental activists around the world.

Winding Highway Upgrades

The latest eco-bridge is now under construction over a narrow, winding section of Highway 1 between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in Israel.

The section of road is the site of frequent accidents; the new bridge overhead, 70 meters wide, will allow the area's wildlife safe and stylish passage.

Netivei Israel

Israel is building an eco-bridge as part of major upgrades on Highway 1, which connects Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The stretch is the site of frequent accidents.

The Ministry of Transport announced significant upgrades to Highway 1 in 2011. The project includes widening the road to three lanes in each direction; digging two 650-meter-long tunnels under the Harel bridge; building two 800-meter bridges to replace the dangerous Motza curve; and other improvements.

The entire project is expected to cost around NIS (New Israeli Shekel) 2.6 billion (about $715 million U.S.).

"The new 16-kilometer section of road we are developing will solve the commuting and transport needs of Israelis for decades to come," Transport Minister Yisrael Katz told Israel National News.

Crabby Commuters

Eco-bridges are being built in countries around the world to protect a variety of wildlife, as well as humans.

Christmas Island Tourism Association / BBC

Crab migration in Australia sends millions of red crabs over roadways each year.

On Australia's Christmas Island, the peak of migration for red crabs has led officials to build crab crossings, crab bridges, and crab underpasses.

In the United States, Washington State officials plan to finalize a design for the state's first wildlife overcrossing in 2014.

Washington DOT

WSDOT officials are offering a $1,500 scholarship to the high school student who develops the best wildlife overpass design.

An eco-bridge near Keechelus Lake could be built in the second phase of ongoing improvements to a 15-mile stretch of I-90, officials say. State Department of Transportation officials have announced a scholarship competition for high school students. The junior or senior who designs the best wildlife overpass will receive $1,500.

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Department of Transportation (DOT); Environmental Protection; Green building; Roads/Highways

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