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Safe highway crossings in the Bow Valley

Safe highway crossings in the Bow Valley
One of the innovative, cost-effective wildlife crossing designs by ARC Solutions. Photo: ARC Solutions
Y2Y is advocating with the Alberta government for a wildlife overpass and fencing east of Canmore as a first step in reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions in the Bow Valley east of Banff National Park.

Solution for a major barrier to wildlife

Y2Y is advocating with the Alberta government for a wildlife overpass and fencing east of Canmore as a first step in reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions in the Bow Valley east of Banff National Park.   

What is the threat? 

The Bow Valley is one of the most important regional wildlife corridors in Alberta and the broader Y2Y region. Busy highways in the area pose a threat to wildlife and people through wildlife-vehicle collisions. They are also a major barrier to the wide-ranging movements that connect individual animals with diverse habitats and mates.  

A broad range of wildlife use the Bow River valley bottom to move between the protected areas of Banff National Park and Kananaskis Country including: 

Humans on the highway: By the numbers

22,000: Average daily number of vehicles traveling the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) through the Bow Valley. In the summer, this number swells to 34,000 per day, nearly 1 every second. 

60: Average annual number of vehicle-wildlife collisions on the 39-kilometre stretch of the TCH between Banff National Park and Highway 40 

$720,000: Approximate annual cost of those collisions  

5: Average number of people killed in wildlife-vehicle collisions annually, province-wide 

300-plus: Average number of people injured in wildlife-vehicle collisions annually, province-wide 

50%: of reported collisions on Alberta’s rural highways are wildlife-related

What is the opportunity? 

You can help make Highway 1 safer and improve wildlife movement in the Bow Valley east of Banff National Park at Bow Valley Gap.

This high-collision spot is about five km east of Lac Des Arcs and 15 km from Canmore. With protected lands on both sides of the highway, a type of landscape that would make construction cheaper, and known high-volume use by wide-ranging species, it’s an ideal location for an innovative, cost-effective and efficiently-built highway overpass and fencing.  

How we will accomplish this 

We are advocating for a highway crossing structure and fencing with the Alberta Government. 

Hilary Young

“We know that these crossings work. Research shows mitigation infrastructure in Banff National Park has reduced the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions by as much as 95 percent. At a project cost of about $7-million, a highway overpass with associated fencing can bring a monetary return on investment in less than 10 years, to say nothing of the saved lives of people and wildlife.”

— Hilary Young, senior Alberta program manager

Since 2017 Alberta Transportation has been working with a firm to design a potential overpass and fencing, with a possible design to be completed by early 2020. We are stressing the value of investing in overpass construction by encouraging residents, local businesses, and those who regularly use the highway to contact their elected representatives.

As more visitors come to the Bow Valley, wildlife-vehicle collision rates will only increase. We can help solve this problem together, now.  

We continue to work with partners to identify additional priority areas for fencing, crossings and other mitigation in the Bow Valley as well as the broader Y2Y region in Alberta, including essential crossing infrastructure on Highway 3 near Crowsnest Pass.

Here are three ways you can help

Take action to get an overpass built east of Canmore. Let decision makers know you want to see this overpass built. Write to key members of Alberta’s government including the Premier, Transportation Minister, Environment Minister, Infrastructure Minister, and the Banff-Kananaskis MLA today.  

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Latest news:

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