Increased Protection for Wildlife Along Orange County Highways
State Route 241 in Eastern Orange County, travels through largely undeveloped land in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. Because of its location however, vehicular collisions with wildlife were a concern. The Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) contracted with the University of California, Davis (UCD) to assess SR 241 and provide recommendations to enhance wildlife movement and reduce risks to wildlife and motorists alike. UCD studied wildlife behavior and movement along SR 241 by installing and monitoring cameras, analyzing data from GPS-collared pumas, documenting intrusions and mortalities, modeling crossings, and conducting an extensive on-the-ground roadway examination. Results confirmed that existing wildlife-crossing structures along SR 241 were adequate in size, type, and location to allow wildlife movement. However, due to the ease with which wildlife could access the roadway and cross at-grade, UCD recommended that a wildlife protection fence be constructed to funnel animals to the existing under-crossings.
To enhance driver and wildlife safety by reducing vehicle-wildlife collisions on the Toll Roads, the TCA designed and installed a wildlife protection fence to reduce risks to wildlife and motorists, and reduce habitat loss.
The Wildlife Protection Fence Project
The Wildlife Protection Fence Project runs along both sides of a 6.5-mile stretch of the 241 Toll Road, from the SR-261 junction north to the SR-91 Freeway in Orange County. During fence construction, four additional wildlife under-crossings were constructed to enhance wildlife movements in the project area. The project installed a galvanized fence fabric with an added special coating along a specific alignment through Ecologically Sensitive Areas. The base of the fence fabric was buried several feet to discourage wildlife from digging underneath. Unique Wildlife Jump-out Ramps utilizing CIDH Piles were also included within this alignment to add protection for deer and mountain lions.
Compliance and Oversight
Ghirardelli served as the Owner’s Representative and performed constructability reviews and quality assurance inspections. Our inspectors monitored the contractor’s traffic control operation for safety and compliance with the approved TCA plans along with worker and site safety and prepared daily construction activity reports. The Project Manager and Resident Engineer scheduled and coordinated required quality assurance testing with the designated Materials Testing Consultant, coordinated construction surveys and construction activities with Caltrans Oversight and submitted the required paperwork to their staff. They also conducted bi-weekly progress meetings with TCA staff, contractor and other interested parties, monitored construction schedule, and identified potential variances between scheduled and probable completion dates. The Resident Engineer verified constructed quantities and provided recommendations for progress payments, reviewed and verified contract change order
Requests and claims and made recommendations to TCA staff.
The project work fell within Caltrans Right-of-Way and required freeway lane closures and SWPPP monitoring to help ensure compliance with Santa Ana RWQCB requirements.
A Successful Outcome
Since installing the fence, vehicle-wildlife collisions have been eliminated within the project area. The fence effectively funnels wildlife off the roadway to the safe under-crossings and culverts, improving safety for both the public and wildlife. The fence is placed within 30 feet of the traveled roadway making it highly visible to maintenance crews. In addition, the project has successfully increased available habitat by more than 180 acres along the roadway, reducing habitat loss and fragmentation.