Caltrans, CDFW, Brightline West reach agreement to build wildlife overcrossings

Feb. 17, 2023
The project will ensure wildlife, in particular big horn sheep, at three high-need locations in San Bernardino County can safety cross over highway lanes and future high-speed rail infrastructure.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and Brightline West, under a new agreement, will design and construct three wildlife overcrossings across Interstate 15 and the future high-speed rail system connecting Las Vegas and Southern California.

“Roadways and rail lines must be designed to connect, not divide,” said California Gov. Gavin Newsom. “This project will not only protect the precious wildlife and habitat of the Mojave Desert region, but it will also get people between Las Vegas and Southern California safely and efficiently – preserving one of the most popular corridors in our state.”

The dedicated overcrossings will provide a sustainable and safe path for wildlife, in particular big horn sheep, over the existing highway lanes and the future 218-mile high-speed rail system. CDFW has identified three priority locations for the overcrossings in San Bernardino County in an area the agency considers high need. In addition to the overcrossings, the project will maintain or improve more than 600 culverts and large-scale crossings under I-15.

“When launched, Brightline West will be one of the greenest forms of transportation in America and an eco-friendly upgrade to the I-15,” said Sarah Watterson, president of Brightline West. “Beyond significantly cutting carbon emissions and creating a cleaner, more efficient way to travel, this is just one more way the introduction of this system will ensure vital and long-term protections for a diverse array of wildlife.”

The entities have worked during the past year to develop, plan and fund the work. Project costs will be covered using capital resources from Caltrans, CDFW and Brightline West. The parties also intend to seek federal dollars.
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