CWU News

CWU Research Helps Shape New Wildlife Overpass on I-90

CWU researchers have been studying wildlife along Interstate 90 near Snoqualmie Pass for several years to help inform how the state’s first freeway overpass for animals will be designed.

The new wildlife overcrossing is part of the next major phase of construction on I-90, which broke ground today during a ceremony. Six new lanes, new bridges and culverts, and slope stabilization also are planned for the two-mile stretch from Keechelus Dam to Stampede Pass. Construction is expected to finish in 2019. Local officials, CWU faculty and staff, business leaders, and transportation advocates joined the state Department of Transportation for the groundbreaking. 

Since 2008, WSDOT has funded research by CWU faculty and students at animal crossings along I-90. The wildlife monitoring project is the largest study of its kind in the United States and is unique because the monitoring is occurring prior to construction. Wildlife fencing and several large crossing structures, including three major overpasses, are proposed between Hyak and Easton.

CWU biology professors Kris Ernest, Steve Wagner, and Paul James are the research team leaders. Together with students they’re discovering what species inhabit the project area and are learning how the freeway affects animal behavior and survival. Their focus is on fish, amphibians, and small mammals. In addition to habitat building on top of and under the animal crossings, the research will guide stream rebuilding aimed at creating suitable fish habitat. Monitoring will continue after construction to see how the crossing structures impact wildlife.

June 9, 2015