New wildlife crossing over I-90 nearing completion
SNOQUALMIE PASS, Wash. -- For the last few decades, I-90 has been an incredibly efficient way for drivers to cross the rugged Cascade Mountains. But for the creatures living in those rugged mountains, the interstate has undoubtedly been quite inconvenient.
But life for wandering mountain critters is about to get a little easier, as Washington's first ever wildlife overcrossing is nearing completion.
"As animals move through, it's kind of a seamless transition," said wildlife biologist Patty Garvey-Darda.
By the end of the year, a 150-foot wide wildlife bridge just east of Snoqualmie Pass will be filled with logs, rocks, and native plants.
"When you're on it, you don't even realize it's not a natural landform," Garvey-Darda said.
It's part of a series of improvements along this stretch of I-90 in the last few years, along with adding lanes, stabilizing slopes, and adding the avalanche bridges.
The new overcrossing was modeled after similar structures in Canada's Banff National Park and is paired with a large undercrossing nearby.
"Sometimes wildlife doesn't like to go under because they feel constricted and that there might be predators lurking underneath, so on top it's more open and they feel safer," Garvey-Darda said.
WSDOT says they first planned to put it in closer to the pass, but wildlife tracking revealed more activity farther east.
"We've seen a lot of wildlife even during construction trying to use this structure, so they're ready for us to be done," said Brian White with WSDOT.
The larger size will accommodate all sizes of animals, from mice and moles to bears and elk, to safely get around the other creatures who visit their forest.
"We should be proud of our state," White said. "This is really a great situation where we could improve a major infrastructure project and at the same time do something really great for wildlife."
One more overcrossing is planned for Easton Hill. Construction on that will begin in a few years.