Construction is scheduled to start in April on a $90 million southern California overpass over Highway 101 that will be paved with grass and shrubs and which will not carry a single car.
Instead, the project will be the world’s largest wildlife crossing, providing room to roam for what an Associated Press story says are “mountain lions and other animals hemmed in by urban sprawl.”
The National Wildlife Foundation (NWF) says the project’s groundbreaking will take place on Earth Day, April 22.
The bridge will give big cats, coyotes, deer, lizards, snakes and other creatures a safe route to open space in the Santa Monica Mountains and better access to food and potential mates, said NWF spokesperson Beth Pratt.
“This one’s historic because we’re putting it over one of the busiest freeways in the world.”
She helped organize the project along with other conservationists and state transportation officials.
Pratt said the bridge will be the largest in the world, stretching 200 feet (61 meters) above 10 highway lanes and a feeder road about 35 miles (56 kilometers) northwest of downtown LA.
The majority of the project’s costs (60 percent) have been covered by private donations, including $25 million from philanthropist Wallis Annenberg. The balance of the construction budget is from public funds allocated for conservation.Work is to be completed by early 2025.
Gov. Gavin Newsom called the project an “inspiring example” of public-private partnership.
“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,” Newsom said in a statement Thursday.
Some 300,000 cars a day travel the Liberty Canyon area stretch of the 101 in Agoura Hills.