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UDOT troubled with humans on wildlife bridge

Members of the media tour a wildlife overpass on I-80 in Parleys Canyon. Photo: Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah– The wildlife bridge over I-80 is seeing positive results, says the Utah Department of Transportation after recent video evidence of animals using the crossing. The $5 million project was designed to allow animals to cross the area without interfering with car traffic below. The only problem: humans are beginning to use it.

“There’s a possibility that if the animals that are using the bridge see humans out there, they are going to be frightened away from it,” said John Gleason, UDOT public information officer. “It’s going to take longer for [the animals] to feel comfortable using the crossing.”

Gleason said UDOT has seen a lot of success from the crossing much earlier than they expected. The wildlife bridge opened late last year and officials were expecting to wait a few years for animals to use it.

“I think we can say at this early stage that it is working and it is making a difference in that area,” Gleason said. “Just seeing […] the animals that are crossing the bridge. Those are the animals that would be out crossing I-80 and [their presence] could potentially mean crashes.”

While it is still too early to draw conclusions, the bridge has already made positive changes for traffic flow in Parleys Canyon. Since the opening in December 2018, there hasn’t been any reported animal-involved crashes, according to UDOT.

There are posted signs on both ends of the crossing that state it is intended for wildlife use only. Gleason said the overpass is private property and crossing it is a form of trespassing. There are not currently any fines imposed on those who cross the bridge.