LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — State officials released a proposal on Thursday to build an overpass on the 101 Freeway to keep wildlife safe near Agoura Hills.
Over the past few years, at least a dozen mountain lions have been killed in the area by cars while trying to cross the freeway.
In an effort to prevent more wildlife deaths, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MCRA) requested for Caltrans to develop a project study report in February, to evaluate the cost and feasibility of constructing a wildlife bridge.
In response, Caltrans proposed to construct a 165-foot by 200-foot bridge across the freeway, just west of Liberty Canyon Road in the City of Agoura Hills, according to the National Wildlife Federation.
The new bridge would allow wildlife to safely cross between the Santa Monica Mountains, Simi Hills and Santa Ana Susana Mountains.
‘This report by Caltrans shows a crossing is not only feasible, but affordable,” said Beth Pratt, California state director for the National Wildlife Federation. “As the recent death of cougar P-32 on Interstate 5 shows, this crossing and others like it are urgently needed. Not just for cougars, but for the bobcats, deer and foxes that have also had their historic trails cut off by highways.”
The crossing would include vegetation to resemble the natural habitat of animals that would frequent the passageway.
“Much more research needs to be done so we can understand other places where a simple crossing like this can protect wildlife and avoid vehicle collisions,” added Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “From cougars to monarch butterflies, we’re seeing a pattern. Wildlife species need abundant contiguous habitats to survive and thrive.”
The project is sponsored by the MRCA, which is a local partnership between the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, the Conejo Recreation and Park District and the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District, officials explained.
The bridge has an estimated cost of $30 million. The MRCA is hoping to finance the project with donations.
For more information about the wildlife crossing proposal, click here.