California Wants $38 Million Bridge for Big Cats


You may have heard of the bridge to nowhere. This is the bridge for nobody, that is, unless you’re the four-legged variety.

The California Department of Transportation has proposed a grassy bridge specifically designed for wildlife over US 101 in the Santa Monica mountains. The area is home to mountain lions, bobcats and other wildlife that have been struck and killed by traffic in recent years. Since 2002, motorists have killed a dozen big cats in the area.

But the bridge, planned to entice wildlife with grass and trees, will cost an estimated $33 million to $38 million. A long-awaited study by the state agency recently showed that the plan was feasible. At the proposed location, the freeway has 10 lanes of traffic.

Seth Riley, a wildlife ecologist with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, told the Los Angeles Times it’s likely the largest proposed project of its kind.

“I don’t know anywhere where people have tried to put such a large wildlife crossing over such a busy highway in such an urban landscape,” said Riley, who has led the mountain lion study.

In one of the rare cases of a mountain lion successfully crossing over the freeway, a cat nicknamed P-22 has been photographed by trail cameras within Griffith Observatory and earlier this year the cat spent a few days in one home’s crawl space. When hiking in mountain lion territory it’s important to always be aware of your surroundings. 

Photo courtesy: Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority