By Matt Kroschel
SILVERTHORNE, Colo. (CBS4)– It appears the first ever overpass constructed exclusively for wildlife, along with several underpasses built for the same reason, are working along Highway 9 between Silverthorne and Kremmling.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife cameras captured images of a large black bear and even a Bighorn sheep using the underpasses earlier this month. There was also an elk spotted using the overpass.
“It’s been working out great so far, we’ve got tons of pictures of wildlife using the wildlife overpass and the underpasses,” said CDOT Engineer Justin Kuhn.
This is a welcome sight now that construction ramped up once again on the 11 mile segment of Hwy. 9 for the Colorado Department of Transportation safety and improvements project.
The multi-million dollar project aimed at reducing animal vs. car crashes on the notoriously dangerous stretch of busy roadway seems to be working, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials.
Other animals were spotted making their way over traffic in January.
It’s something many local residents believe is a good solution.
“I hit an elk last winter, my wife has hit a couple of deer over the years,” said Grand County resident Dan. “A lot of property damage, that’s for sure.”
The highway was also widened and larger shoulders were added. Additional work this summer will include a second overpass and another underpass. More fencing will also be added.
The project is scheduled to be completed in July 2017. Until then, drivers can expect some delays.
“It’s the main corridor from Denver to Steamboat so we get a lot of tourist traffic. Traffic really picks up on the weekends,” said Kuhn.
Monday through Friday, during daylight hours, both northbound and southbound traffic will be reduced to one lane in alternating directions.
Road surface conditions will be extremely rough for the majority of construction, as paving operations will not occur until later in the project, according to CDOT.
CDOT officials advise drivers to expect delays of up to 45 minutes through the construction zone.