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‘World’s Largest Wildlife Crossing’ Will Help Animals Walk Safely Over 8 Lanes of California Traffic

Smithsonian Magazine: “When freeways are built through their natural habitats, animals often end up suffering—and so do humans on the road. Every year, more than one million wildlife-vehicle collisions occur across America, resulting in 200 deaths and 26,000 injuries to drivers and passengers. Now, an ambitious project in California aims to help address this problem. Crews are building the “largest wildlife crossing in the world of its kind” over Highway 101 in Los Angeles County. When the project is finished in 2025, the manmade crossing should provide safe passage for mountain lions, bobcats, deer, lizards, coyotes, snakes and ants as they move between the Santa Monica Mountains and the Simi Hills of the Santa Susana mountain range. Called the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, the project will cost $92 million. It’s being funded via a public-private partnership between numerous collaborators, including Caltrans, the National Park Service and the National Wildlife Federation. Crews broke ground on Earth Day two years ago. Last week, the project hit a major milestone as the first horizontal section was lowered into place above the freeway. In the coming months, crews will install more than 80 of these concrete girders, each weighing between 126 and 140 tons.The 210-foot-long crossing will form a bridge over eight lanes of traffic. It will eventually be covered in vegetation, including more than a million native plants, to make it more appealing to wildlife. Landscapers will also plant trees and vegetation on 12 acres on either side of the crossing to make it feel “more like walking over a hill than crossing a bridge,” as Jeanette Marantos wrote for the Los Angeles Times last year. Though the bridge is expected to benefit many animals, wildlife experts are especially hopeful it will improve the lives of mountain lions. In the wild, they typically roam territories that span more than 100 square miles. But because of the freeways in and around Los Angeles, they’ve struggled to move around freely. As a result, some of the region’s mountain lions are now inbreeding, which makes them more susceptible to numerous health issues…”

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