Tunnel, fence near Shingle Springs to help critters cross Hwy. 50 safely
Tony Bizjak, sacbee, May 19, 2012... but still guesswork at play. Caltrans applied for and won a federal grant several years ago to build a crossing somewhere along Highway 50. When officials did an initial analysis on the best place to put it, they came to a surprising and disconcerting conclusion: There are no roadkill hot spots on Highway 50 in El Dorado County.
... UC Davis researcher Fraser Shilling and other biologists who have studied crossings and wildlife patterns say the ideal is to have a deer crossing every mile...
On a wooded and wildlife-rich stretch of Highway 50 in the foothills, Caltrans is about to launch an unusual road safety experiment – for critters and drivers alike.
The agency is building the Sacramento region's first deer and large-animal road crossing, a $1.6 million tunnel and fence project, in hopes of reducing the amount of roadkill in the Highway 50 corridor.
Even as they put finishing touches on the tunnel east of Shingle Springs near the El Dorado Road exit, state Department of Transportation biologists acknowledge they can't be sure how well it will work.
Will deer, coyotes, foxes, bobcats and mountain lions find their way to the 12-foot-by-12-foot concrete culvert? And will they choose to use it, or continue along the fence looking for an opening to make a dangerous dash across the four lanes above?
"No one location is going to solve the problem," said Suzanne Melim, Caltrans biologist on the project. "I think it'll work well.
"I look at this as a starting point in what will be a continual effort."
The Highway 50 undercrossing is funded by a federal grant. But state officials acknowledge that spending money on an animal crossing when California faces a massive deficit could raise questions.
Caltrans officials say ...