Finalists named for Vail Pass wildlife crossings |

Finalists named for Vail Pass wildlife crossings

Jeffrey LeibThe Denver PostVail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyZwarts & Jantsma Architects (Amsterdam)

DENVER, Colorado – Promoters of a design competition to produce a “next generation” wildlife crossing for spanning Interstate 70 on Vail Pass have revealed submissions from five finalists bidding for the award.The Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University is sponsoring the ARC International Wildlife Crossing design competition, which settled on the finalists from 36 submissions that came in from nine countries.The teams included 100 design firms from around the world. The finalists are teams led by design firms based in New York, Philadelphia, Toronto and Amsterdam.Physical models of the five designs of finalists will be displayed at the Western Governors’ Wildlife Council meeting in Denver on Wednesday, said Rob Ament, Western Transportation Institute project manager for the competition.The winning team will be announced at the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 23.”The winning design will serve as a model for the world in creating the next generation of wildlife crossings facilitating the movement and protection of wildlife and providing for the free flow of traffic and people,” promoters of the design competition said.”These teams have shown that we have the research, the technology and the talent to create a state-of-the-art wildlife crossing that can be replicated throughout the United States and the world,” Western Transportation Institute senior research scientist Tony Clevenger said in a statement.Clevenger and others from the institute said designers had to deal with special challenges unique to the development of an animal crossing in the West Vail Pass area. They include heavy snow loads and other severe weather problems, an increasing volume of traffic on I-70, high elevation, steep grades and the possible future construction of an “advanced-guideway” train in the I-70 corridor.The five finalist designs include such features as the “use of an inverted arc shape” for the crossing “that conveys the feeling of a valley for animals and results in more light for drivers,” the transportation institute said.Among the finalists, other features include:• “An iconic red bridge that attracts human interest, but remains unremarkable to color-blind mammals.”• A diversity of building materials, including glued laminated timber, steel, glass-reinforced plastic, wood-core fiberglass and pre-cast concrete• The placement of cameras on the crossing to provide real-time monitoring of wildlife movement.The I-70 site for the crossing at West Vail Pass won out over about two dozen other U.S. and Canadian locations bidding to be the location for the prototype wildlife crossing.According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, bear, bobcat, coyote, deer, elk, big-horn sheep and lynx are among the species involved in vehicle-animal collisions on Colorado roads.The Western Transportation Institute has worked with CDOT in crafting the competition. Finalists for best design are expected to be pre-qualified by CDOT if the state agency ever solicits designs for the I-70 wildlife crossing. However, CDOT does not currently have money budgeted to build such a wildlife crossing.

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