Grant funds pilot study for wildlife-vehicle collision reduction plan

Published 3:16 pm Monday, December 11, 2023

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Kentucky is one of 17 states to receive a new federal grant aimed at making roadways safer for people and wildlife with $1.2 million to fund a wildlife-vehicle collision reduction plan and a pilot study in central Kentucky to identify links between crashes and environmental factors.

The Wildlife Crossings Program competitive grant was issued to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that pumped new funding to states for infrastructure projects that improve safety and quality of life.

“This funding will help us identify ways we can make our roadways safer for our families,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “The ultimate goal is to protect travelers and to protect Kentucky wildlife.”

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KYTC submitted the grant in partnership with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, to develop Kentucky’s first Wildlife-Vehicle Collision (WVC) Reduction Plan to identify crash factors and potential solutions to reduce collisions. As part of the plan, a pilot corridor study will be completed to evaluate U.S. 60 and Interstate 64 segments between Louisville and Frankfort.

The Cabinet will collect wildlife and roadway data to identify key areas where road expansions and high traffic volumes intersect with wildlife habitats and migration routes.  The U.S. 60/ I-64 corridor was selected as a focus area due to a high number of annual deer crashes.

“We’re excited to build upon our existing efforts to improve highway safety and prevent crashes with wildlife,” said Transportation Secretary Jim Gray. “With these funds, we’ll be able to take a deep dive into data to make informed conclusions and develop a collaborative system to report and identify priority corridors.”

Last year in Kentucky, there were approximately 3,000 reported deer collisions statewide, according to KYTC.

Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Commissioner Rich Storm stated, “Encounters with deer and other wildlife occur frequently along the I-64 corridor between Louisville and Frankfort making this an excellent focal point for this project.  Wildlife vehicle collisions, particularly those involving deer, pose a significant risk to Kentucky motorists.  We applaud the Transportation Cabinet for taking the initiative to reduce these wildlife vehicle collisions and improve habitat connectivity in Kentucky.”

The study and plan are expected to begin in the summer of 2024.