POLK COUNTY, Fla. – A wildlife underpass is being constructed in Polk County. The crossing beneath I-4 will reconnect wilderness that was bisected in the Seventies, permitting animals to safely entry the protected lands on either side of the interstate.
Crews are working to reconstruct the prevailing interchange at I-4 and State Road 557, however automobiles is not going to use this underpass.
“This is a superb alternative to re-establish the pure corridors for wildlife to have the ability to reconnect to the areas that they hadn’t been related in 50-years for the reason that interstate was constructed,” defined FDOT District Drainage Design Engineer, Brent Setchell.
About 100,000 autos pace along I-4’s six lanes every day.
The freeway is a significant barrier to wildlife, protecting populations separate, and amassing lives as roadkill.
“The deer on this facet of the highway haven’t seen the deer on that facet of the highway in 50 years,” Setchell stated. “This’ll be the primary crossing in Polk County throughout I-4 and the primary of three that we now have deliberate.”
According to FDOT, there are shut to 250 wildlife crossings, culverts, or modified bridges throughout the state, and so they have been very profitable.
Cameras seize all kinds of animals taking benefit.
Trail cams monitoring the realm close to the brand new connector present an abundance of critters. The underpass can be a land bridge, and still have a canal connecting wetlands.
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“Panthers, bears, bobcats, raccoons, deer, you title it,” stated Setchell when requested what animals may use the underpass. “Aquatic species reminiscent of alligators and frogs and lizards and snakes and that kind of factor have the ability to cross as nicely.”
The tunnel can be 61 toes throughout with not less than 8 toes of vertical clearance. Stitching collectively two sections of the Hilochee Wildlife Management Area in the Green Swamp. It can be a part of the Florida Wildlife Corridor. One and a half miles of 10-foot-tall fencing will assist steer the animals to the crossing and away from the interstate.
“Safety is large for motor security in addition to the wildlife security. We need to make it possible for we’re defending each,” Setchell stated.
Allowing animals as soon as once more to migrate freely and enhance habitat connectivity.
This interchange reconstruction mission began in 2020 and is predicted to be full by subsequent summer season. Traffic can be shifted to the brand new lanes above the wildlife crossing by the tip of the 12 months.
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