US 160 wildlife crossings project resumes in April

Mule deer utilizing the underpass were photographed utilizing Southern Ute Wildlife trail cameras.
A bull elk using the underpass was captured with a night vision camera provided by the Southern Ute Wildlife Dept.
SU Wildlife Dept.
SU Wildlife Dept.

Beginning next week, the Colorado Department of Transportation and prime contractor, Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction Co., will resume construction of wildlife infrastructure on US Highway 160 and Colorado Highway 151 near Chimney Rock National Monument and Lake Capote. Efforts to construct two wildlife crossings (underpass and overpass) began last March, spanning a stretch of highway within a critical migratory corridor for both mule deer and elk – approximately 13 miles west of Pagosa Springs and 37 miles east of Durango.  

Through the end of June and into the first part of July (weather and availability of materials permitting), crews will focus on the wildlife overpass. The overpass precast concrete forms were set over the highway this past fall. Work to complete the structure includes building concrete sidewalls, backfilling the sidewalls and slopes for animal access and seeding the natural landscaping on the bridge. 

Wildlife such as mule deer, elk and small mammals have begun to use the completed wildlife underpass. Deer fencing and guards have also aided in animal safety. With the completion of the overpass, and as migration herds become more accustomed with the new crossings, the number of successful movements by animals will increase and thereby decrease wildlife-vehicle collisions in the area. 

“Wildlife-vehicle collisions make up more than 60 percent of crashes in this area. This $11.3 dollar project is expected to reduce those collisions by at least 80 percent,” said CODT Regional Transportation Director Julie Constan. “And we are already seeing benefits. Our project and environmental teams are very excited to discover that trail cameras have captured small animals and big game, including deer and elk, using the underpass structure completed last fall.”  

All aspects of the wildlife underpass were completed before the winter break. Additionally, an eight-foot-tall exclusion fence was installed on both sides of the highway. At the intersection of CO 151, a deer guard was placed and turn lanes were improved.  Also, within the construction zone, the road was widened to extend passing lanes and US 160 was repaved. 

Travel Impacts  

Daytime work hours will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Fifteen-minute delays are expected. Speeds will be reduced to 30 mph in the work zone. Please keep speeds down for the safety of everyone. Shoulder and single lane closures are anticipated throughout the duration of the project. For real-time impacts on this project and others across the state, please visit http://www.cotrip.org.  

Stay Informed About this Project  

The public is encouraged to sign-up for email updates or access information through the following resources:  

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