Apr 26, 2022
On Earth Day, last Friday, construction on an overpass over a Los Angeles highway started. The pedestrian bridge, though, isn't for humans. The overpass is being built for animals.
Once built, the wildlife crossing is expected to be the world’s largest of its kind. The overpass will be 210 feet wide. It will cross 10 lanes of traffic. The bridge is set to be finished in 2025.
The project is mostly funded by private donations. It stems from 20 years of National Park Service (NPS) studies. The NPS studied the potentially deadly impact of highways and urban sprawl around Los Angeles on migrating animals. Mountain lions are at particular risk.
Wildlife advocates have long worried about the fate of the large cats. Researchers say they could go extinct in 50 years. In the past 20 years, 25 have been killed in vehicle accidents on Los Angeles-area freeways.
Scientists say the roads are not only dangerous for mountain lions to cross. They create urban islands that trap the animals. That makes it hard for them to travel farther north. Migrating is important to increasing the cats’ genetic diversity.
"This wildlife crossing could not have come at a better time," said a NPS biologist. “Today's groundbreaking sets a path toward saving our local mountain lions and supporting the diversity of wildlife in this whole region.”
The US has 1,000 wildlife crossings. Fewer than 20 go over highways.
Image from Living Habitats.