Underpasses, deer fencing will improve safety
IN 2023, CDOT will begin an extensive wildlife mitigation project on US 160 between Fort Garland and La Veta Pass, along the Trinchera and Forbes Ranch roads, and between mileposts 258-266.
They will install two to three wildlife underpasses. The exact locations are to be determined. A wildlife underpass will allow mule deer, elk, bear, and many other species to safely cross busy stretches of the highway. In 2016, CDOT and CPW created a series of wildlife underpasses and overpasses along Highway 9 between Green Mountain Reservoir and Kremmling, resulting in a 90 percent decrease in wildlife-vehicle collisions.
More high deer fencing with game ramps will be added from mileposts 258-266.
Acceleration and deceleration lanes will be added to the entrances of the Trinchera and Forbes Ranches during this construction period, as well. These lanes will be located near mileposts 260 and 270.
This project is years in the making. Conversations between CDOT, Costilla County, and San Luis Transportation Planning Region have addressed the need to improve safety on US 160 between Fort Garland and the La Veta Pass summit.
“Additionally, CDOT has been in conversations with a private landowner along the corridor for over a decade about the need to address wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVCs) along this corridor,” said Tony Cady, CDOT planning and environmental program manager.
A section of US 160 was the subject of 2018’s Critical Location Safety study. The study saw that 54 percent to 73 percent of all reported vehicle crashes between mileposts 258-266 were wildlife-vehicle collisions.
Between 2005-2018, 237 mule deer and elk carcasses were recovered from this section of highway.
The West Slope Wildlife Prioritization Study, conducted in 2019, recommended the installation of three wildlife underpasses in the same section of highway.
In the same year, CDOT, CPW and communities impacted had an onsite meeting to discuss wildlife mitigation projects that have been successful in the past and went to the areas where deer and elk cross the highway.