Andy Kim is a former GOVERNING staff writer.
Collisions between automobiles and wildlife cost Americans an estimated $8 billion annually, according to the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University. In an effort to lower the number of crashes between the two, the ARC: International Wildlife Crossing Infrastructure Design Competition challenged design teams to develop overpasses so wildlife can safely cross highways. The Wall Street Journal reports that although critter-crossing tunnels have been built all over the country over the past 10 years, some animals don’t use the tunnels and would fare much better with more open overpasses. The competition asked teams of architects, engineers and ecologists to design an overpass that would go over a segment of Interstate 70 near Vail, Colo. There are no plans to build such an overpass; contest officials chose the location because of the engineering challenges the location poses. The winning team – selected among five finalists early next year – will receive a $40,000 prize. Founding sponsors for the competition include Montana State University, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Forest Service.