A new study on the frequency of roadkill on California roads finds that I-280 between San Bruno and Cupertino is the “Deadliest Highway in California” for animals.
A team at UC Davis called the Road Ecology Center does all manner of studies of California roads and highways, and their effect on wildlife habitats, air quality, forest damage, and another impacts of roads and vehicular traffic. Their latest study delves into the tens of thousands of deer, birds, coyotes, mountain lions, squirrels, and even newts that are killed on California roadways, and its findings literally hit close to home. According to NBC Bay Area, I-280 on the Peninsula is what they call the “Deadliest Highway in California” for wildlife.
The center’s “roadkill report” does not refer to these animals as roadkill, instead they refer to each collision as a “wildlife-vehicle conflict” (WVC). But it’s not really a fair “conflict” given what keeps happening to the animals, and it happens most on one stretch here in the Bay Area.
“The highway with the consistently highest rate and cost of WVC in any given year in the last 5 has been I-280 on the San Francisco Peninsula, between San Bruno and Cupertino,” the report points out. “Five of the top-20 highest cost, 1-mile segments of highway in CA are on I-280.”
Their full 21-page report (Warning: Has many pictures of dead animals, including the first thing you see on your screen when you click on it) concluded that this does cost the state significant money, in terms of damage and cleanup costs. When considering incidents reported by the Highway Patrol and the U.S. Department of Transportation, they estimate these accidents have cost the government about $1 billion in damage over the last five years. Consumers have paid about $1 billion out of their own pockets during that same period, according to their assessment of insurance data.
They recommend a much lower-cost addition of fencing and wildlife-crossing structures. The deer above is seen in such a crossing structure east of Truckee, wherein the deer can simply walk safely through a passage beneath the highway.
This isn’t exactly new news. The same center put out a report in 2016 that also found the same stretch of I-280 to be California's worst for vehicular collisions with animals. That reports found "exceptionally high concentrations of deer-vehicle conflict" on that highway, and the new report adds that “fencing most of I-280 to prevent wildlife access and reduce WVC would be very cost-effective.”
Image: Google Maps