Project Info

HWY97RoadKill1 Improving safety is one of our state’s top 10 animal-vehicle collision sites.  The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has reported that over a 10 year period (from 1996 to 2006) they picked up over 1,600 deer carcasses, while
The 12.5 mile stretch of Highway 97 just south of Tonasket in Okanogan County from milepost 299 to 312 they have mapped the areas in this corridor for highest carcass removal locations
.  This same stretch of highway is an important north-south freight corridor and is within the Okanogan Trails Scenic Byway.

Washington State’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan 2010:  Target Zero aims to reduce all fatalities and serious injuries on our states highways to zero by 2030.  It recognizes the risk of wildlife-vehicle collisions and says the state will “design roads and roadsides using best practices to reduce collisions, or reduce the severity of collisions if they do occur.”

In an attempt to improve safety in this location stretching from Riverside to north of Janis Bridge, a series of wildlife underpasses and complimentary fencing has been proposed by WSDOT for consideration.  Improving safety in this 12.5 miles would be conducted in a phased approach with an underpass and associated fencing constructed in one location, while monitoring informs next steps for an additional underpass and need for fencing.  WSDOT is interested in hearing from the public and working with landowners within this area as they explore options for improving safety.

The Proposal

Currently, WSDOT proposes that the most effective way to reduce deer-vehicle collisions in this high collision highway segment is through installation of fencing, underpass culverts, escape ramps, and cattleguards at intersecting roads.

Initial field reconnaissance indicates that two crossing culverts, with associated fencing, should be constructed in areas where deer kill is high but intersecting side roads are relatively few. A bottomless culvert should be installed at mile post 303.2, with fencing on both sides of the highway to direct wildlife to use the underpass. A second bottomless culvert should be installed at mile post 308.5, with associated fencing as well.

Fencing at some level is necessary to direct wildlife to these new underpasses, but will be included in this project in a phased approach based on monitoring.

The current estimated price tag for this proposal is $12.1 million.

US97 Riverside Scoped Project Location

US97 Riverside Scoped Project Location. Credit: WSDOT

View a booklet assembled complimentary to this effort by Jones and Jones of before and after images of the proposed underpasses and their locations to help visualize the proposal.  A discussion has begun with WSDOT to explore the return of water rights to state owned land adjacent to one of the proposed underpass locations to return the land to agricultural use, thereby attracting mule deer towards the underpass.

This proposal is open to public dialogue before any analysis is completed or decision is made.

For more information contact us (info@safepassage97.org) or Kelly McAllister of WSDOT (mcallke@wsdot.wa.gov, (360) 705-7426).