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Real support for I-90 wildlife and connectivity

May 16, 2011

Gov. Gregoire signs a final transportation bill that extends the I-90 upgrade through the Cascades, including plans for Washington’s first-ever wildlife crossing bridge in an important wildlife connectivity corridor.

Real support for I-90 wildlife and connectivity

Wildlife get a peek into - and a promise of Washington's first-ever wildlife bridge. Artist's rendition

Washington’s Governor Gregoire today signed a final transportation bill that extend the I-90 upgrade through the Cascades, including plans for Washington’s first-ever wildlife crossing bridge near Keechelus Dam.

The move helps bring safe passage for Cascades wildlife from elk to bear along the I-90 wildlife corridor from Hyak to Easton.

Washington’s transportation bill directs the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to apply $8 million of the savings from Phase 1 of the I-90 Project to the design of the project’s next two miles, and savings from the current contract bidding to construct the next phase, which includes a truck chain-up area and the wildlife overpass.

The design of the 15-mile project from Hyak to Easton includes increasing the highway to six lanes, expanding snowsheds and incorporating fifteen wildlife crossing structures, mostly underpasses at creeks. The project has already improved connections for wildlife with an underpass at Gold Creek.

"It’s exciting to hear clear direction from the legislature supporting the I-90 project. It’s great news for wildlife that the bill received such strong bipartisan support from both sides of the Cascades," says Conservation Northwest's Jen Watkins. Design of the next phase starts this summer and should be ready for construction in late 2012.

Conservation Northwest is part of the I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition supporting the project to improve movement for wildlife across the interstate in a key wildlife corridor. A unique set of I-90 project supporters worked together during the legislative session, including AAA, Conservation Northwest, Washington Potato Commission, Defenders of Wildlife, Kittitas County, Central Washington University, Sierra Club, and more.

Learn more about the I-90 project and see a virtual flyover.

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