Grassy Bridge Could Help Mountain Lions Cross L.A. Freeway

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By Keith Wagstaff

A grassy bridge spanning 200 feet long could help mountain lions, deer, and bobcats cross the busy 101 Freeway in Los Angeles County.

Wildlife activists rallied for the bridge last fall after P-22 -- California's "celebrity mountain lion" -- got stranded in L.A.'s Griffith Park, where he got sick after ingesting rat poison.

A mock-up of the wildlife bridge that would cross the eight-lane 101 Freeway near Los Angeles.Resource Conversation District of the Santa Monica Mountains

The proposed wildlife bridge would cross an eight-lane highway to connect the Santa Monica Mountains with the Simi Hills and Santa Susana Mountains.

A report from the California Department of Transportation released on Thursday found the project to be feasible. The 165-foot-wide bridge would be lined with vegetation to encourage animals to cross the often traffic-clogged area of the 101 Freeway at Liberty Canyon in Agoura Hills, located northwest of the city of Los Angeles.

Overall, the project would cost between $30 million and $38 million, the report said.

“The public recognizes the significance of these mountains and has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to preserve them,” Joseph T. Edmiston, executive director of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, said in a statement. “Science militates that we construct the highest functioning wildlife crossing to ensure the survival of our native species — including mountain lions — in the local mountains.”

This is not the first wildlife bridge built in the United States. A smaller overpass meant primarily for pronghorn sheep was built in Wyoming in 2012 and this year Washington State broke ground on a 150-foot-long bridge for black bears, deer and cougars.

Related: Mountain Lions That Make L.A. a Wild Place Are Under Pressure

A final environmental report and a period for public comments would be needed before construction could start on the California bridge.