UDOT begins second phase of wildlife fencing installation
It will mirror existing fencing along westbound lanes of I-80
This week, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) began installing additional wildlife fencing on Interstate 80 as part of an ongoing effort to reduce the number of collisions between vehicles and wildlife.
To pay for the installation, UDOT advanced a portion of funding from a $22 million climbing lane project, which included a $5 million grant earmarked for wildlife mitigation to fund construction of a wildlife overpass and three more miles of fencing. The money wasn’t supposed to be available until October 2017.
John Montoya, UDOT project manager, said the community encouraged UDOT to expedite the installation of fencing before the fall. He added, “We share their concerns about wildlife collisions with vehicles and wanted to get on it as quickly as we could to make it happen.”
Crews are scheduled to work Monday through Friday to put up “as much fencing as possible this summer,” Montoya said, beginning with one mile along eastbound I-80 near Jeremy Ranch and approximately 1.400 additional feet on both sides.
“The goal for us with the fencing is to make sure the best crossing for the animals will eventually be at the wildlife bridge,” Montoya said.
Last year, UDOT worked with the local nonprofit organization Save People Save Wildlife to secure funding for the mile of fencing that is currently in place along the westbound side of I-80 near Jeremy Ranch. It extends one mile west toward Parleys Canyon.
In 2010 and 2011, UDOT installed 12 miles of wildlife fencing in Parleys Canyon between mile markers 133.6 and 143. An additional 15 miles of fencing was also installed near Silver Creek over the last two years.
However, the fencing near Jeremy Ranch is located in an area where a concrete noise abatement wall is being considered. Montoya said the wall is still under review. Seventy-five percent of affected homeowners, would have to return ballots and 75 percent of those ballots need to be in favor of the wall for it to be built.
UDOT representatives met with the Summit County Council earlier this month to discuss other options, such as a berm on the Jeremy Ranch Golf Course. He said the final solution, whether it be a berm or concrete noise wall, will determine whether there is any interference with the fencing or it needs to be taken down and relocated.
“Coordination between our two groups is ongoing… The concepts will be evaluated for effectiveness and constructability in an effort to find a solution that balances project requirements with public concern and feedback on both sides of the issue,” Montoya said. “We do not have any detailed answers at this point, as we need to work through this evaluation process to see where it leads. We have received a variety of public feedback regarding this issue and understand its sensitivity. Because of that, we are committed to continuing our collaboration with county officials and to providing updates to local residents as the evaluation process progresses over the coming weeks.”
A former Summit County victim advocate who was facing a felony count of misusing public money pleaded guilty Tuesday to a lesser charge in a deal with prosecutors.