Construction began in Los Angeles on a 64m structure that will enable wildlife to cross all 10 lanes of the 101 freeway at the city’s Liberty Canyon.
The Wallis Annenberg wildlife crossing will link the Santa Monica Mountains, the Simi Hills and the Santa Susana Mountains, protecting animals from the 300,000 vehicles which use the stretch of road each day.
The project is the largest of its type yet built and will benefit a range of species, including bobcats, gray foxes, lizards, coyotes and deer. A particular concern is for mountain lions, which are close to extinction.
The crossing will be landscaped to blend into its surroundings and will contain vegetated barriers to reduce the impact of noise and light pollution.
The development concludes 20 years of research by the National Park Service, which has created “islands” of natural habitat in the urban sprawl.
Gavin Newsom, California’s governor, said: “California’s diverse array of native species and ecosystems have earned the state recognition as a global biodiversity hotspot. In the face of extreme climate impacts, it’s more important than ever that we work together to protect our rich natural heritage. This project will restore vital habitat and enable mountain lions and other wildlife to roam safely.
“Backed by significant public and philanthropic support, the wildlife crossing is an inspiring example of the kind of collaborative efforts that will help us protect our common home for generations to come.”