A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

Wildlife Crossing: Top Designs Announced

Five teams from three countries will submit final plans

By Leda Marritz

A few months ago, I wrote about a competition that invited design teams to create an innovative, safe, cost-effective and “ecologically responsive” wildlife crossing along a section of the I-70 just west of the Vail Pass in Colorado.

Thoughtfully designed wildlife crossings help protect animal populations whose migratory or foraging patterns put them in direct conflict with humans and vehicles on roads and highways. More than a million animals are killed on roads in the United States every day, making it the leading cause of vertebrate deaths in the U.S., and as a proportion of total vehicle accidents this number is growing.

Now, five teams have been selected as finalists from a pool of 36 submissions from nine different countries. These teams include architects, landscape architects, engineers and ecologists from a dozen companies. Here are the finalists. (Note that the pictures here are just extracts from the full presentation, which can be seen here. All photos courtesy of ARC International Wildlife Crossing Infrastructure Design Competition)

Balmori Associates, New York

Janet Rosenberg & Associates, Toronto

Michael Van Valkenburgh & Associates with HNTB, New York

OLIN, Philadelphia

Zwarts & Jantsma, Amsterdam

Each finalist team will receive a $15,000 honorarium and must visit the site of the proposed wildlife overpass.

The design submissions will be judged by a group of experts chaired by Charles Waldheim, the John E. Irving Professor and Chair of Landscape Architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. The winning design team will be announced in January at the National Academies’ Transportation Research Board’s Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. All five team finalist designs will be on display at the conference, and the winning team will receive $40,000 at the public recognition ceremony.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will have the opportunity to enter into a contract with the winning team to complete the structure, although they are not required to, and there is no guarantee that the wildlife crossing will be constructed. If CDOT does decide to solicit more submissions for the site, all the finalist teams are pre-qualified for consideration.

The ARC competition is the first design competition in North America to focus on integrating wildlife habitat and migratory patterns into bridge and road design. While the West Vail Pass site was carefully chosen for many reasons, the hope is that the design innovations that have been presented will help move the needle on the sustainability, innovation, cost-effectiveness and overall success of wildlife crossings internationally.

To find out more about the design submissions, download the five finalists’ proposals from the ARC website. Physical models of the proposed designs are currently on display at the Western Governors’ Wildlife Council Meeting in Denver.