U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced details for the first-of-its-kind pilot program to make roads safer, prevent wildlife-vehicle collisions, and improve habitat connectivity. The program, which was created through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, previewed at the White House Conservation in Action Summit last month, and will be administered by the Federal Highway Administration, makes grant funding available to states and communities to construct wildlife crossings over or below busy roads, add warning signs for drivers, acquire mapping and tracking tools, and more.
“Every year, Americans are injured and killed in crashes involving cars and wildlife,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “By launching the Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program, we are taking an important step to prevent deadly crashes in communities across the country and make America’s roadways safer for everyone who uses them.”
Wildlife vehicle collisions are a clear safety issue, especially in rural areas. Each year in the United States, roughly 200 people are killed – and many more are injured – in more than one million collisions involving wildlife and vehicles. Through the Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program, DOT is taking the unprecedented step of dedicating funding for wildlife crossing projects that will make our roads safer – making a total of $350 million available over five years, including more than $111 million in grants through its first round of awards funding this year.
“There are proven practices to prevent crashes between vehicles and wildlife, and with this investment, we’re going to take commonsense steps to reduce collisions and make roads safer for rural and urban communities alike,” Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt said. “Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, communities that may not previously have had access to funding for these critical projects can finally make roads safer while protecting wildlife and their movement corridors.”
The grant funding will promote activities that reduce wildlife vehicle collisions, including warning signs for drivers and construction of wildlife crossings both over and under roadways where habitats exist on either side of a busy road. Grants are available for all project activities, including but not limited to research, planning, design, and construction. The FHWA seeks to award non-construction and construction projects under the Wildlife Crossings Program, including research on safety innovations, mapping and tracking tools, and the design and construction of overpasses and underpasses.
The program supports the Department of Transportation’s National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS), issued January 27, 2022. The strategy sets a goal of achieving zero roadway deaths and serious injuries through a Safe System Approach, which includes multiple approaches to prevent crashes from happening in the first place. The projects funded by the Wildlife Crossings pilot program will improve the overall safety of the traveling public and reduce the economic drain caused by wildlife crashes (such as loss of income, medical costs, property damage, and decline in productivity and quality of life), while simultaneously supporting species survival.
Eligible applicants include state departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), local governments, regional transportation authorities, special purpose districts, public authorities with a transportation function, Indian tribes, and Federal land management agencies (FLMAs) that are proposing projects to reduce wildlife vehicle collisions and improve habitat connectivity for terrestrial and aquatic species.
Please see here for Notice of Funding Opportunity and for more information on the Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program.
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