Heather Willard / NewsBreak Denver / Nov. 7, 2022
(Douglas County, Colo.) Although Coloradans moved their clocks back an hour this weekend, wildlife will retain their nighttime patterns. The Colorado Department of Transportation warns motorists to stay vigilant, drive with caution and slow down.
Autumn is also the peak mating and migration season for many species. CDOT and Colorado Parks and Wildlife are partnering to share information about seasonal wildlife patterns. Winter storms also often push wildlife from the high country into lower elevations.
"It’s going to be obviously most dangerous at dusk and dawn," said Colorado Parks and Wildlife District Wildlife Manager Cody Wigner. "This time of year, the days are getting shorter and people are commuting to and from work at those times."
CDOT data also shows November has more car accidents involving wildlife than any other month.
“With the changing seasons and snow already in the mountains, we are seeing a lot of deer and elk across our highways that motorists need to look out for,” said Steve McClung, CPW assistant area wildlife manager.
“It is important for people to adhere to speed limits and remember that many of our highways have reduced speed limits from dusk until dawn to help prevent collisions with wildlife. Drivers should be aware of animals in town, on county roads and on highways and keep their eyes on the road and shoulders to help prevent dangerous collisions.”
In an effort to decrease the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions in Colorado, CDOT has collaborated with CPW to develop wildlife prioritization plans.
“From these studies, wildlife mitigation features can be added to planned highway improvement projects,” said Steve Harelson, CDOT chief engineer. “The prioritization plans provide us with a proactive approach to pursue strategic wildlife-highway mitigation where it is needed most, to allow wildlife to safely cross busy highways and decrease the potential of high risk of wildlife-vehicle collisions.”
In some areas, such as the I-25 Gap Project, wildlife infrastructure has been constructed to project drivers and wildlife. CPW and CDOT monitor wildlife data and maintain ongoing collaborative efforts. More information can be found at the Colorado Wildlife Transportation Alliance.
CDOT’s wildlife protection efforts in Douglas County are included in the I-25 Gap Project Monument to Castle Rock, which will include five underpasses, high fencing and one overpass currently in design. The project is about 75% complete and expected to be finished in November, according to the Douglas County Government.
CDOT is instituting lane closures overnight from Nov. 6 through Nov.11 between Monument and Castle Rock as crews complete guardrail patching and repairs, pavement grinding and permanent striping operations. Northbound hours are slated for 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., and southbound lane closure hours are slated for 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
At least one lane will be open. From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 7 -11 motorists should watch for Express Lane (far-left lane) closures on northbound and southbound I-25 between Monument and Castle Rock for signage installation and pavement grinding operations.
At least two lanes will be open during the day. Additionally, single lane closures and flagging on the east-west frontage roads will be instituted from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Flagging at the County Line, Greenland and Upper Lake Gulch Road interchanges continues from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.CDOT and CPW are also working on the I-25 South Gap Project, which will include four wildlife crossings, over 30 miles of high fencing, escape ramps and deer guards.
“Wildlife crossing structures are a win-win for wildlife and for people,” said Michelle Cowardin, CPW’s wildlife movement coordinator. “These projects allow animals to move safely across the landscape for seasonal and daily movements while decreasing the risk to motorists of having wildlife collisions.
“As traffic increases across the state, more roadways will become barriers to wildlife movement, therefore it is important that we work together to develop solutions to maintain healthy wildlife populations in Colorado.”
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