Arizona U.S. 93 Project Receives National Environmental Excellence Award

ADOT, Game and Fish partnership addressed safety.

Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep
Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep
Arizona Game and Fish Department
Arizona Game and Fish Department

PHOENIX, AZ – -( An innovative partnership project that addressed public safety and wildlife habitat connectivity has garnered yet another award.

The U.S. 93 Hoover Dam to milepost 17 project delicately balanced the need to build a safe highway with the needs of the ecosystem in an environmentally sensitive area in Mohave County. For this reason, the National Association of Environmental Professionals has named the project as a recipient of the 2012 National Environmental Excellence Award in the conservation category.

The $71.3 million Arizona Department of Transportation project, completed in late 2010, provides motorists with a continuous four-lane divided highway from Interstate 40 in Kingman to the new Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge over Hoover Dam.

The project has received national recognition for three wildlife overpasses, designed in collaboration with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, to protect motorists and provide safe crossings of U.S. 93 for the desert bighorn sheep that are native to the region.

“This is a highly deserving project that promotes environmental stewardship by providing wildlife connectivity strategies for the Black Mountain desert bighorn sheep and other wildlife while enhancing the safety of the traveling public with a modern four-lane divided highway,” said Karla S. Petty, Arizona Division administrator for the Federal Highway Administration.

The overpasses are the first of their kind built specifically for the largest contiguous herd of desert bighorn sheep in the United States. A few months after the project was completed, cameras installed on the crossing bridges captured the desert bighorn sheep using the new overpasses, which are 100 feet wide and 203 feet long.

“As Arizona’s population grows, it’s critical that we plan ahead to preserve the state’s wildlife heritage while also reducing the number of vehicle collisions with wildlife,” said Ray Schweinsburg, research program supervisor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Maintaining networks of connected habitat and implementing solutions to reduce wildlife-car collisions is bigger than just one department, making partnerships like this one on Highway 93 key.”

This is the fifth major award this project has received. Others include:

  • The Arizona Chapter of the American Public Works Association Transportation Project of the Year in the $25 to $75 million category
  • The American Council of Engineering Companies of Arizona 2011 Engineering Excellence Judge’s Choice Award to the project designer, AMEC Earth & Environmental, Inc.
  • The FHWA Exemplary Ecosystem Initiative Award – one of only 12 projects to receive the award in 2011
  • The 2011 Arizona Transportation Partnering Excellence Award

The success of the project can be attributed to the partnership and tireless effort across multiple agencies, including Federal Highway Administration, Arizona Game and Fish Department, National Park Service, Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, FNF Construction and AMEC Environment & Infrastructure, according to ADOT Director of Environmental Services Todd Williams.

“This project represents one of the most comprehensive efforts in North America to reduce the risk of wildlife-vehicle collisions and enhance wildlife movement across a high-speed rural highway,” said Williams.

ADOT Kingman District Engineer Michael Kondelis added, “This has been a model project. All agency partners and team members worked extremely hard and made significant contributions for this project’s success.”

Arizona Wildlife Overpasses
Arizona Wildlife Overpasses

The NAEP award presentation will take place in May in Portland, Ore.

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