News & Media

Design selected for I-70 wildlife crossing near Vail

by Jessica Fender (The Denver Post)
January 24, 2011

A rendering shows an aerial view of a proposed wildlife overpass on Interstate 70 near Vail. The crossing is aimed to prevent car-animal collisions. (ARC Project via The New York Times )Calling it a potential “model for the world,” a panel of architects and engineers Sunday picked a New York firm’s design for a wildlife crossing over Interstate 70 near Vail from an international field of 36 teams.

The ARC International Wildlife Crossing Infrastructure Design Competition was aimed to help prevent collisions between cars and wildlife wandering onto I-70.

Bear, bobcat, coyote, deer, elk, big-horn sheep and lynx are among the species involved in vehicle-animal collisions on Colorado roads, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

The crossing, designed by HNTB with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, features a built-in drainage system, affordable materials and an easy-to-construct design that would allow crews to build it without shutting down traffic in both directions.

Its broad expanse, chosen unanimously by the five-person panel, is covered in trees, grasses and shrubs to blend in with the natural habitat on either side of the interstate.

“We have the technical expertise and the know-how to overcome design challenges and implement cutting-edge survival practices” said Charles Waldheim, chairman of the ARC jury. “What we really need now is the political, economic and social leadership to bring this design to life.”

The stretch of I-70 — a challenge for its steep terrain, frequently high traffic volume and weather — won’t be getting the new wildlife crossing any time soon. The cash-strapped CDOT has said it does not have the money to fund such a project.