Now through Friday, Oct. 28, the North Carolina Department of Transportation is accepting public input on its transportation plan for 2024-2033.
The plan, known officially as the State Transportation Improvement Program, is updated approximately every two years and identifies the construction funding and schedule for projects statewide over a 10-year period.
NCDOT uses this public commentary to determine needs and interest levels for prioritizing projects across the state.
The Safe Passage Fund Coalition asks that supporters consider submitting comments that advocate for wildlife crossing projects in Haywood County, along the Pigeon River Gorge.
Suggested comment topics include:
- Proven solutions to prevent wildlife–vehicle collisions include: improving existing structures like culverts and bridges that wildlife use to cross busy roads, or building new wildlife overpasses and underpasses so wildlife do not have to cross at road grade. Wildlife crossing structures have been shown to reduce motorist collisions involving wildlife by up to 97%.
- Consider adding wildlife-friendly infrastructure in design and planning for bridge improvements already planned by NCDOT.
- Construct large-mammal underpasses to reduce dangerous collisions with species such as white-tailed deer.
- Construct small-mammal, reptile, and amphibian underpasses to significantly reduce roadkill.
- Wildlife–vehicle collision-related costs add up to roughly $12 billion in the U.S. annually. The cost of a deer–vehicle collision averages around $6,000. Wildlife crossings can be costly upfront, but quickly pay for themselves by reducing the economic effects of collision emergency response, damages and repairs, medical bills, and reduced ecotourism dollars from wildlife viewing or hunting.
- Every 26 seconds (or less) a driver hits an animal in the United States, making highways one of the greatest barriers to wildlife movement.
- In addition to killing 1-2 million large animals every year, these collisions cause 200 human fatalities and more than 26,000 injuries nationwide.
- Road mortality is a serious threat to 21 endangered and threatened species in the U.S.
- The U.S. Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed by Congress in late 2021, includes $350 million for wildlife crossing infrastructure projects through a competitive grant program. With smart investment and continued public support, North Carolina can make its roads safer for people and wildlife alike.
Please consider filling out NCDOT’s survey and voicing your support for wildlife-friendly infrastructure in upcoming projects to improve safety for wildlife and motorists alike. All comments must be received by 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 28.