****source-americantownandcountry.com, Andy Castillo, First published April 6, 2023
Each year, more than one million American drivers collide with wildlife in the roadway, killing about 200 people. It’s a chronic problem, especially in rural areas, the federal government is seeking to address through a first-ever grant program of more than $350 million distributed over five years.
The Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program, was created under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and 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 other things, according to a statement from the Federal Highway Administration, which is overseeing the program
“There are proven practices to prevent crashes between vehicles and wildlife, and with this investment, we’re going to take common sense steps to reduce collisions and make roads safer for rural and urban communities alike,” said Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt in the statement. Through the grant opportunity, “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.”
This year, more than $111 million will be available in first round awards funding.
Grants are available for all project activities, including research, planning, design, and construction, according to the statement. 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.
“Every year, Americans are injured and killed in crashes involving cars and wildlife,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg about the program. “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.”
Visit the Federal Highway Administration’s website for more information on the Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program. Applications for this year are due Aug. 1.