WILDLIFE

Save People Save Wildlife urges creation of wildlife passageway on SR 224

Feb 20, 2024, 1:00 PM

Motorists travel under a wildlife crossing bridge spanning I-80 in Parleys Canyon on Tuesday, Oct. ...

Motorists travel under a wildlife crossing bridge spanning I-80 in Parleys Canyon on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023.A recent report examining vehicle collisions with wildlife in 11 states says damages total $1.6 billion a year. (Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

PARK CITY, Utah — Save People Save Wildlife has urged Park City’s council to add a wildlife passageway on S.R. 224 to its 2024 strategic plan. The organization presented its case to the council last week.

A 2019 Utah Department of Transportation study ranked S.R. 224 as the fifth worst road in Utah for vehicle-wildlife collisions. At the time there were 2.97 collisions per mile each year between vehicles and wildlife.

A later study, commissioned by UDOT and carried out by Bio-West found that the number increased to 4.11 vehicle-wildlife collisions per mile per year on S.R. 224. 

Installing a wildlife passageway could keep animals off the road, reducing the number of collisions. A wildlife bridge was installed at Parley’s Summit in 2018. 

In addition to the “alarming” data, SPSW president Erin Ferguson said that the nonprofit has collected “thousands of letters” and donations in support of the wildlife passageway. 

“Our community is speaking with their letters of support, demanding safe passage for wildlife. And they are speaking with their donation dollars as well… The community wants safe passage for wildlife on S.R. 224 to be a priority for Park City. The passion of the community indicates a call to action,” said Ferguson.

The organization has already raised about $260,000 for the wildlife passageway. 

“It’s time-sensitive in terms of funding opportunities over the next three years. We need to compete for these federal funds, so we may implement wildlife connectivity,” said Ferguson. 

“Not just a safety issue” 

According to the press release, about 30,000 vehicles use S.R. 224 to enter and leave Park City every day. 

SPSW argued that dangerous wildlife-vehicle collisions are also an economic issue. 

Tom Farkas, SPSW’s treasurer, said that between 2010 and 2020, collisions between wildlife and vehicles cost $7.5 million. 

“Between now and [the] 2034 Olympics, we could see another $7.5 million in senseless vehicle wildlife collision costs if a crossing is not in place,” said Farkas to the council.

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Save People Save Wildlife urges creation of wildlife passageway on SR 224