Home

World’s Largest Highway Overpass For Wildlife Coming To LA’s 101 Freeway in 2023

By Danielle Dorsey

Share

When Southern California’s local mountain lion celebrity, P-22, crossed two freeways to gain access to a new park, it became clear that the local species needed more space to roam. Conservationists and transportation officials hope that a mostly privately funded wildlife crossing will give the mountain lions, coyotes, deer, lizards, snakes, and other animals safe access to food and potential mates.

CBS News reports that the overpass will be the first of its kind near a major city and the largest in the world, extending 200 feet above ten lanes of traffic and a feeder road just 35 miles northwest of downtown LA in Agoura Hills, which an estimated 300,000 cars drive through a day. The first wildlife crossing in California opened last October near Temecula, but they are popular across western Europe and in Canada.

Scientists tracking the mountain lions with GPS collars found that the highways are trapping the animals in the Santa Monica Mountains, which stretch from the Malibu coast to Griffith Park, where P-22 currently prowls. 

Beth Pratt of the National Wildlife Federation told The Associated Press that, “When the freeway went in, it cut off an ecosystem. We’re just now seeing impacts of that.”

One consequence is the isolation of local mountain lions, which could face extinction within the next 15 years and has been driven to inbreeding due to habitat loss.

The $87 million bridge is in the final design phase and on schedule to break ground within two years and be completed by 2023, according to Sheik Moinuddin, project manager with the California Department of Transportation. Officials say that construction will occur at night and will not result in lengthy shutdowns of the 101 freeway. 

80 percent of the project funding will come from private sources and CalTrans is hopeful that it will inspire other conservation-based philanthropists across the state. More than $13.5 in private funding has already been raised and officials are considering offering naming rights to an individual or entity that makes a significant donation. The remaining 20% will be drawn from public funds already allocated for conservation projects. 

P-22 is unlikely to cross the wildlife overpass since he’s made a home in a park many miles away, but Pratt says his relatives will benefit. Clark Stephens, an Architect with the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains, said he is working with biologists and engineers on designs that will block sound and light from the freeway so that from the animal’s perspective the topography of the bridge is indistinguishable from the scenery on either side. Stephens’ design will total about eight acres, with the bridge occupying around one acre. 

“Ideally the animals will never know they’re on a bridge,” Stevens said, adding, “It’s landscape flowing over a freeway. It’s putting back a piece of the ecosystem that was lost.”

Share
Travel Noire

Danielle Dorsey

Want more?

Get exclusive, unpublished tips from Travel Noire's CEO to help you get off the beaten path, into the hearts of locals and onto a better, more cultured life.

Step Inside The Most Beautiful Offices In The World

Step Inside The Most Beautiful Offices In The World

The word is out. Beautifully and thoughtfully designed offices have an impact on the company’s overall vibe and culture.  These brands have put ample time (and money) into creating stunning spaces where anyone would want to work. GIPHY, New York City, New York Just as imagined, the GIPHY office in New York is as fun […]

Leah Freeman-Haskin

Flight Deal: Fly Nonstop From NYC To LA (And Vice Versa) For Only $196

Flight Deal: Fly Nonstop From NYC To LA (And Vice Versa) For Only $196

Listen up! We found a great deal for those looking to get from one coast to the other, for a reasonable price. JetBlue just dropped prices on their nonstop routes from New York’s JFK airport to LAX, and vice versa. This low price flight option is valid for those looking to travel between January and […]

DeAnna Taylor

Flight Deal: Fly From L.A. To Havana, Cuba For $256

Flight Deal: Fly From L.A. To Havana, Cuba For $256

West Coast, you don’t want to miss this amazing deal. American Airlines dropped prices on its routes from LAX to Havana, Cuba. The lowest price found was $256 roundtrip. These low price routes will come with a layover each way, likely in Miami. If you want to step out of the airport to kill time […]

DeAnna Taylor