The long-awaited overpass that would allow mountain lions and other wildlife to safely cross the 101 is moving forward. Caltrans recently released an environmental assessment for the project, called the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing, and will be doing public outreach.
As for actually building the overpass, Kate Kuykendall from the National Parks Service says the wildlife overpass is still on track and, if all its funding goals are met, it’s scheduled to begin construction in 2022.
The overpass is planned to span the 101 at Liberty Canyon in Agoura Hills. Renderings from the environmental assessment suggest that it’ll look a lot like a regular overpass, expect it will be covered in plants.
The project is designed “to help reduce wildlife mortality and enhance safety for motorists by reducing motorists’ sudden movements when avoiding animals crossing the freeway,” says a Caltrans announcement.
It’s also intended to help the mountain lions move beyond the Santa Monica Mountains. Right now, they’re penned in, which has led to a staggering amount of inbreeding. Without more genetic diversity, the risk of the big cats becoming extinct increases dramatically. It could happen in as little as 50 years.
The assessment shows two possibilities for the bridge: One spanning just the 101; or two overpasses across the 101 and a smaller one over Agoura Road.
The wildlife overpass project would be “the first of its kind” in California, though there are similar successful projects across the country, according to Caltrans.
The National Wildlife Federation and Santa Monica Mountains Fund are fundraising for the project. In November, conservationists purchased the land where the animal overpass will be built.