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Group Looks To Protect Drivers & Wildlife On Highway 9

SILVERTHORNE, Colo. (CBS4) - It's a dangerous mix along one Colorado highway -- drivers going 65 miles per hour and a lot of wildlife on Highway 9 between Silverthorne and Kremmling. There is now a unique funding source coming forward to help fix the problem.

Mike Ritschard knows first-hand how dangerous Highway 9 is.

"My parents were killed on this road in December of 1985, so it means a lot to me. That was a bad road that night, but there was supposedly wildlife involved," Ritschard said. "It's also a road Front Rangers use to go to their ski areas, to their recreation areas."

Ritschard is part of a group fighting to put in the first ever wildlife overpass in Colorado.

"It would be two overpasses, fiver underpasses. It'll be designed so animals can go back and forth between either side. The biggest thing would be the fences to keep them off," Ritschard said.

"This 10-mile stretch is a migration corridor from the Blue River across to winter habitat on the east side of the highway," Perry Handyside with Blue Valley Ranch said.

"The numbers speak for themselves. In the last 20 years we've had 590 reported car accidents on this road, and in that 20-year period there's been 16 fatalities," Handyside said.

The wealthy owner of Blue Valley Ranch, which boarders the highway, has put up nearly $5 million for the project.

(credit: CBS)

The overall project is about $46 million, and in order to qualify for the new Colorado Department of Transportation program, they need to have about 20 percent of it in place by July 1. That leaves $4.3 million to be raised.

"The Grand County commissioners have provided the leadership for this project. We're in a partnership with Grand County and CDOT. We believe we're going to raise the money. It's an uphill climb, but it's a worthy cause," Handyside said.

Along with highway fencing and overpasses, the road would also be widened.

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