HYAK, Wash. -- Deer have started using an unfinished wildlife bridge over Interstate 90 east of Snoqualmie Pass.
Meagan Lott of the Washington State Department of Transportation says despite heavy machinery in use around the crossing, deer have tried it out.
The overcrossing is expected to reduce animal-vehicle collisions.
Lott said the long-term plans for the cross-state corridor through the Cascade Mountains include 27 total wildlife crossing structures to bolster habitat connectivity and traveler safety.
Motorists traveling over the pass may notice the bridge because of its distinctive twin arches over the now six-lane freeway.
Snoqualmie Pass Project reaches halfway point
In 2013, WSDOT celebrated the completion of the first 3 miles of the corridor. The near-completion of this 4-mile section marks a major milestone as WSDOT is halfway to completing the full 15 miles between Hyak and Easton.
“After many years of hard work, it’s exciting to see we are nearing completion,” said Brian White, WSDOT assistant regional administrator for construction. “The additional lanes and avalanche bridges will provide a more reliable roadway and the wildlife overcrossing will improve safety and connect wildlife habitat.”
Contractor crews removed more than 2 million cubic yards of material and poured 153,000 cubic yards of concrete to build six new lanes – three in each direction – and 17 new bridges including two avalanche bridges and a wildlife overcrossing.
This first phase includes two wildlife underpasses at Gold Creek and one at Rocky Run that not only benefit terrestrial wildlife in the area, but the species living with the creeks themselves including a resident population of bull trout.
Fish and wildlife are already using the wildlife underpasses, which you can see in the regularly updated photo gallery at I-90 Wildlife Watch.
The second phase includes the construction of the first wildlife overpass at near Price and Noble creeks.
Work to complete the remaining half of the 15-mile corridor is scheduled to begin in 2021 with completion in 2029. This 8-mile section will add new lanes, stabilize rock slopes, build more wildlife overcrossings and add new chain-up areas.