Earth Day this year marked groundbreaking in the Los Angeles area for what will be, when finished, the world's largest 'safe passage' for wildlife to avoid fatal interactions with wild drivers and their cars.
To motorists cruising by on the ten-lane Highway 101, California's latest overpass project will look more or less like just another overpass. The big hope is that up on top, mountain lions, snakes, lizards and toads will also not notice much difference from the rest of the environment.
That's an important issue; numbers of animal overpasses in other location have either failed to attract customers, or have taken years to win animal confidence. Robert Rock, the landscape designer for the project, pointed out that many of those have been cement and steel rather than blending in.
At 210 feet long and 165 feet wide, the overpass will have walls lined with vegetation and sound insulation, acres of native plants at either end and a carefully landscaped 'roadway' that will allow animals to become accustomed to it and avoid the frantic highway crossings that have led to dozens of deaths.
Private donations are covering 60% of the $90 million cost of the project, with the rest coming from state conservation funds.