News & Media

I-80 wildlife overpass construction begins

June 20, 2012

ELKO — Lane restrictions are in place as the Nevada Department of Transportation begins construction of an Interstate 80 safety crossing between Oasis and West Wendover at Silver Zone Pass. The overpass is designed to reduce collisions caused as deer and other large animals migrate across I-80.

Construction takes place from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with occasional Saturday work. In areas, interstate speed limits are reduced to 55 mph over Silver Zone Pass, with traffic reduced to one lane. Large vehicle loads over 14 feet in width are advised to take an alternate route.

The overpass will be constructed as two separate arches, one covering each direction of interstate. Each arch spans 65 feet across the roadway and reaches nearly 23 feet above the road.

With the close interaction of the Nevada Department of Wildlife, the wildlife overpass walkways will be covered with earth and native vegetation to replicate the natural environment and encourage crossing by deer and other animals. Deer fencing will be installed on both sides to help direct animals to cross at the overpass, avoiding potential traffic collisions.

In a recent five-year span there were nearly 2,500 reported vehicle-animal collisions across Nevada, including approximately 1,300 involving deer. Studies estimate that more than 50 percent of such collisions go unreported to authorities, pointing to a likely higher number of animal-related incidents.

NDOT has worked with NDOW to also install five safety crossings on U.S. 93 north of Wells. Research conducted by Nova Simpson and Dr. Kelley Stewart of the University of Nevada, Reno shows that, during the first three migrations in which the safety crossings were installed, more than 12,000 mule deer were kept off the road and away from potential collisions with vehicles.

“A large deer or animal can cause great damage to a vehicle, and more importantly, to motorists,” Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Jim Stewart said. “Motorists should drive carefully, particularly in wildlife-prone areas. Look for deer/elk crossing signs and scan the road ahead for potential wildlife.”

“The state’s driving safety goal is zero fatalities,” NDOT Director Susan Martinovich said. “NDOT and our partners install important road safety measures such as these crossings, but the most important factor is each person driving safely.”