Hearing Will Discuss Proposed SoCal Wildlife Crossing

Cal Trans photo shows area of Highway 101 near Agoura Hills where a wildlife crossing would be built above the highway.

Living in Southern California meant I usually found myself grumbling about being stuck in my truck far longer than I ever wanted to experience. No matter where I was going, what time it was or the season, I was going to be stuck in traffic. So imagine how the region’s widlife must have felt with so many obstacles on four wheels were standing in the way of crossings.

Around the border of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, a section of Highway 101 in Agoura Hills – a stretch of road I knew well while I lived in nearby Thousand Oaks – a proposed “wildlife crossing” is in the works that would cover the entire length of the freeway and allow area animals to cross from the Simi Hills on one side of to the Santa Monica Mountains on the other.

Here’s what Cal Trans says about the project:

Caltrans proposes to build a wildlife crossing across U.S. Route 101 (US-101) just west of Liberty Canyon Road in the City of Agoura Hills in Los Angeles County. The purpose is to help maintain wildlife populations that travel between the Santa Monica Mountains and Simi Hills, and ultimately to the Sierra Madre Mountain Range. This linkage has been identified in numerous county, city and regional plans and publications as a critically important connection for wildlife. Such wildlife crossings have been built and used successfully in other states and countries. The Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing would be the first of its kind in California.

The Ventura County Star reports that a public meeting will be held tonight to discuss the impact of the crossing.

The crossing at Liberty Canyon Road would help mountain lions, coyotes and bobcats safely cross the eight-lane highway.

An estimated $50 million bridge would be designed to look like natural habitat and be the first of its kind in the state, according to Caltrans.

The agency will hold the public hearing from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium at King Gillette Ranch, 26800 Mulholland Highway in Calabasas. …

Here are some of the details of the proposal:

  • Building a 165-foot wide and 200-foot long bridge over Highway 101. In addition, a crossing could be built over nearby Agoura Road, according to an alternative.
  • Officials say the project is needed because Highway 101 creates a barrier for wildlife trying to cross between the Simi Hills and the Santa Monica Mountains.
  • While the crossing would be built for all wildlife, it’s the mountain lions that have garnered much concern and attention. A long-term National Park Service study found the lions’ inability to get out of or into the Santa Monica Mountains has led to inbreeding, low genetic diversity and lions killing other lions.
  • The spot has been called an ideal location for a crossing because of large patches of protected public land on either side of the highway.
  • If the project is approved and the funding is secured, Caltrans says construction likely would be scheduled from May 2019 to November 2021. 

However ambitious the plan seems to be, I’d be all for the critters that also call SoCal home can get their own carpool lane, because nobody on two legs and four wheels seems to care that they are taking up all the space!