States Can Help Pay for New Wildlife Crossings

Report evaluates funding mechanisms for construction of highway overpasses and underpasses

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States Can Help Pay for New Wildlife Crossings
Leon Schatz and Gregory Nickerson Wyoming Migration Initiative

Wildlife crossing infrastructure, including overpasses and underpasses, has proved highly effective in connecting wildlife habitat areas separated by roadways and preventing wildlife-vehicle collisions, but despite this, states lack sustained funding to support new projects. Crossings are commonly funded as part of large-scale transportation improvement projects, or through multiple, braided, one-time funding sources. Dedicated funding would substantially increase states’ ability to build wildlife crossings where and when they are needed.

Now, a new ECONorthwest report, commissioned by The Pew Charitable Trusts, examines potential revenue mechanisms that states can use to leverage hundreds of millions of dollars in federal matching grants available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in 2022 and to support construction of new wildlife crossings over the long term. The analysis distinguishes between conservation- and transportation-related funding streams and ranks each revenue mechanism according to five criteria:

  • Nexus—the level of overlap between the communities that would benefit from the crossing structures and those paying for the construction.
  • Adequacy—the mechanism’s ability to generate sufficient funds.
  • Stability—the year-over-year consistency of the mechanism.
  • Implementation—a state’s ability to oversee the deployment of the new fee or tax.
  • Equity—the distribution of the fee’s impact.

The Pew Charitable Trusts provided funding for this project, but Pew is not responsible for errors in this paper and does not necessarily endorse its findings or conclusions.

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