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Wildlife Overpasses Make Roadways Safer For Drivers, Animals

GRAND COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)- Grand County will be the first county in Colorado to get wildlife overpasses. The bridges make the roadways safer for both drivers and animals.

"It will make it safer for the community and Northwest Colorado," said Citizens for a Safer Highway 9 spokesman Mike Ritschard.

There has been nearly one death a year on a 10-mile stretch of Highway 9 through Grand County, most of those from collisions with wildlife.

Ritschard knows tragedy from this road all too well, "I lost my folks in December of '85. Always hoped this road would be improved. Never dreamed we would have this opportunity and now we do."

In May a fundraising campaign was set up to find the necessary funds for the Colorado Department of Transportation program.

"It truly is a regional road and that's what is so important about this," said Ritschard.

In just two months it seems as though all of Northwest Colorado came together to gather the nearly $10 million which is 20 percent of the project.

"It's public and private collaboration. We got individuals, we got 250 plus individuals that gave money," said Grand County Commissioner Gary Bumgarner.

"The cooperation between Grand County, Summit County, Town of Silverthorne, Kremling," said Ritschard. "There will be five underpasses and two overpasses. Shoulders will be put on for bicycles and game fencing to keep animals off the highway."

The whole project got off the ground with a major investment from Blue Valley Ranch so it's fitting that the west side of Highway 9 will be home to the state's first wildlife overpass.

"For the people traveling this road it will be a fantastic improvement from a safety aspect," said Ritschard.

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