New Hope Creek Bridge as a Wildlife Underpass

Roads pose many threats to wildlife. One such threat, wildlife-vehicle collisions, is a danger to humans as well as wildlife. Bridges built to facilitate movement of wildlife under roads may reduce the incidence of animal-vehicle collisions (AVCs). This study was the first phase of a two-phase investigation of whether the dimensions of a bridge designed to function as a wildlife underpass influence wildlife use of the underpass. The bridge, located along Highway 15/501, spanned New Hope Creek near Durham, North Carolina. The underpass was important as a wildlife passage because the forests associated with New Hope Creek created a corridor between two natural areas. Phase One involved monitoring wildlife use of the current underpass using video cameras. The authors also surveyed sections of Highway 15/501 near the underpass for vehicle-killed animals. In 2007, a longer bridge will be constructed. Phase Two will involve monitoring wildlife passage under the longer bridge. Wildlife use of the current and future underpass will be compared to determine whether underpass dimensions influence wildlife use of the underpass. Between December 11, 2003 and May 31, 2005, 75 deer were observed using the underpass and 5 were observed approaching the highway within view of the cameras. We also observed 36 underpass crossings by medium-sized mammals, including domestic cat, woodchuck, and raccoon, and 15 underpass crossings by small mammals, including gray squirrel, cotton rat, and chipmunk. Three potential road crossings by small mammals were observed. Five vehicle-killed animals, including raccoon, opossum, wild turkey, woodchuck, and an unidentifiable medium-sized mammal, were observed near the underpass. These results indicate that the underpass was used by wildlife, which may reduce the occurrence of animal-vehicle collisions on the section of Highway 15/501 containing the underpass.


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Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 131p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01152595
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: FHWA/NC/2005-11
  • Created Date: Feb 25 2010 1:34PM