MONTPELIER/MONKTON — Hats off to those providing safe passage to turtles, snakes and bobcats.
The Vermont Agency of Transportation, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, the Lewis Creek Association and the Monkton Conservation Commission were recently presented with the Federal Highway Association 2017 Environmental Excellence Award for the wildlife crossing that was completed on Monkton Road in late 2015.
The $350,000 crossing was the only grassroots project recognized by Federal Highway Association; awards are typically given to multi-billion dollar projects. The project was funded in large part by over $110,000 in citizen donations, but also included a $175,000 Federal Highway Transportation Enhancement grant secured from VTrans, and a $45,000 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service State Wildlife Grant secured by Vermont Fish and Wildlife.
“We are pleased to receive recognition for our role in this project,” said Sue Scribner, municipal assistance bureau director for the Vermont Agency of Transportation. “Many parties came together for this important project, and we hope that in the future, others may look for funding through the Transportation Alternatives Program for similar initiatives.”
Monkton Road crosses through an important breeding habitat for one of the largest and most diverse amphibian populations in Vermont. A high rate of amphibian mortality had been observed since monitoring first began in 1997. Coupled with an increase in traffic volume, the amphibian populations were at risk.
Scott Gurley, project supervisor, managed the crossing project, which is the first of its kind in Vermont. It includes two tunnels with wing walls that guide amphibians, snakes and small mammals — even bobcats — to cross safely under the road.
Information on VTrans’ Transportation Alternatives program can be found at vtrans.vermont.gov/highway/local-projects/transport-alt.