New US 97 Bridge to Help Drivers and Wildlife Share the Road
On Monday, June 25, crews begin construction on a project to improve safety for all travelers on US 97, including the furry and finned kind.
More than 1,100 collisions involving wildlife are reported to the Washington State Patrol every year. The US 97 Wildlife Habitat Connectivity project aims to reduce that number by reconnecting wildlife with habitat on each side of US 97 north of Goldendale.
Crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation will build a new, wider bridge to take US 97 over Butler Creek and install eight-foot fences to help guide wildlife to cross underneath the highway.
The new bridge will also improve fish passage by removing a culvert that blocks fish from reaching upstream habitat.
One of the first items of work for crews is building a two-lane temporary bypass bridge alongside US 97. Highway traffic will be detoured onto the bridge later this summer so crews can demolish the existing culvert underneath US 97 and build the new wildlife connectivity bridge.
Drivers can expect narrow lanes and a reduced speed limit of 35 mph during construction.
The $2.9 million project is funded through the 2005 gas tax and scheduled for completion in spring 2013. Visit the project photos page to see what the new bridge will look like and view photos of wildlife observed near the project site.