MONUMENT, Colo. - It's one of the busiest stretches of road in Southern Colorado and it sees dozens of car-wildlife collisions every year. Colorado Parks and Wildlife want to change that.
The I-25 widening project in Monument may see the addition of an underpass for wildlife to safely cross the road without risking drivers. Karen Voltura, the land use specialist for Southeast region of Parks and Wildlife says it's for safety, "not to just to the wildlife but we look at this as a human safety issue as well."
Deer, elk, and bears have all been seen crossing the interstate. Data collected by Colorado State Patrol and CDOT show the most animal-related crashes happen between mile marker 162 and 163. it's also one of the areas where Voltura hopes to implement an underpass to let wildlife safely cross the busy interstate."Anything we can do to get animal movements out of the road," Voltura says, "going under it, taking advantage of existing bridges, existing culvert structures, any of that where we can get them out of the roadway makes it a safer drive."
Parks and Wildlife are working with CDOT to see if an underpass or overpass could be worked into the widening project. The current budget for the project is $350 million. The funds to build the underpass would be taken from that budget, so it would be no extra cost to taxpayers.
Voltura says, "The initial projects that can fit in the existing budget, there may be some projects we carry over till later that can't fit, can't be afforded in this budget but we have identified as concerns will go into our long-range planning."
The underpass could save drivers thousands. Insurance companies estimate that damage done to vehicles from wildlife crashes averages about $4,000 per incident.
CDOT representative for the Southeast region Michelle Peulen says the animal underpass is something they see as a priority, but are still in the early phases of planning.