SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – One of the most dangerous roads in the state will soon be a lot safer with the addition of wildlife overpasses.

A series of over and underpasses on Highway 9 between Kremmling and Silverthorne will allow wildlife like deer and elk to cross safely. Nearly 500 animals have died trying to cross in the past decade, and 16 people have been killed by such an incident over the past 20 years.

“Highway 9 has been the most dangerous highway as far as collision with wildlife, so this is a long overdue and very innovative project,” said Cathy Connell, Commissioner of District 6 for Colorado Department of Transportation.

Michelle Cowardin of Colorado Parks & Wildlife added, “The entire stretch is a hotspot for roadkills.”

Mule deer and other wildlife crossing the two-lane highway create a danger residents are very familiar with, but — until recently — there was no solution or way to cover the cost.

“This could not have been done with one agency, or completed with one group. It has taken multiple committees, businesses, agencies, to get a project this size completed,” said Cowardin.

(credit: Colorado Department of Transportation)

(credit: Colorado Department of Transportation)

The overpasses and underpasses will allow the animals to safely migrate through the area, and is the first of its kind in the state.

Local residents and wildlife biologists are supporting this as a win-win, and it’s likely other states will be watching to see if this model is a success.

Construction has begun along a 10-mile stretch of Highway 9, and for the next two years CDOT workers say to expect lane closures and delays as crews build massive wildlife bridges.

(credit: Colorado Department of Transportation)

(credit: Colorado Department of Transportation)

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