Grant Enhances Connectivity Across Protected State Park Lands Along US 101
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has been awarded $8 million to implement the Gaviota Pass Wildlife Connectivity and Vehicle Collision Reduction Project, aimed at mitigating wildlife-vehicle collisions and fostering connectivity between protected State Park lands flanking US 101. This initiative is part of the broader U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) grant program, which recently allocated $110 million across 19 wildlife crossing projects in 17 states, including four Indian Tribes.
The Gaviota Pass Wildlife Project, proposed near US-101 from south of the Gaviota State Park to just south of the US 101/State Route 1 Interchange in Santa Barbara County, addresses wildlife connectivity barriers by enhancing an existing culvert and deploying 2.5 miles of wildlife fencing. These measures intend to create safer road conditions for drivers while preserving vital animal habitats. The funding for this endeavor stems from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), which earmarks a total of $350 million over five years for the Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program.
“This allocation by the Federal Highway Administration will allow our team to help improve wildlife connectivity on the Gaviota Coast in Santa Barbara County. This is an important effort, and we appreciate the funding contribution.” said Caltrans District 5 Director Scott Eades.
The Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program, facilitated by (BIL), supports projects nationwide that focus on constructing wildlife crossings above and below busy roads. These initiatives align with the Department of Transportation’s National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS), which aims to eliminate roadway deaths and serious injuries through a Safe System Approach, preventing crashes proactively.
Annually, there are over one million wildlife-vehicle collisions, resulting in 200 human fatalities, 26,000 injuries, and a public cost exceeding $10 billion. The Wildlife Crossings Pilot Program reinforces the commitment to achieving the NRSS goal of zero roadway deaths and serious injuries, promoting a comprehensive road safety approach.