The Regional Transportation Authority plan includes $45 million for transportation-related critical wildlife linkages as part of the environmental and economic vitality element of the plan.
This element will provide funding for (1) design and construction of wildlife crossing improvements within future planned roadways and highways and (2) retrofitting existing roadways and highways with wildlife crossing improvements. Wildlife crossing improvements include, but are not limited to, expanded culverts or underpasses, overpasses, fences and signage. Proposals for wildlife crossings associated with roadways or highways that divide existing parks or preserves will be given highest priority. In order to make informed decisions on where and what type of wildlife crossings are needed, research on wildlife migration patterns, types of crossings, and locations of crossings will be actively encouraged and supported.
Pima County residents have supported expenditure of significant funds to conserve unique natural areas surrounding the Tucson urban metropolitan area. Roadways and highways can act as barriers to the movement of wildlife, isolating existing parks and preserves, and contributing to wildlife mortality. Removing such barriers and maintaining wildlife where it exists will help to preserve at-risk animals such as the Sonoran desert tortoise, gila monster, mountain lion, black bear, and amphibians. Improving wildlife movement throughout the region will further the goals of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan and other local conservation efforts and make roadways safer for both people and wildlife.
The Regional Transportation Authority has established the Wildlife Linkages Working Group to develop priorities to evaluate eligible projects, to make recommendations on project funding to the RTA Board and to provide regular reports to the public on the implementation of the program.
For construction projects, the jurisdiction with ownership and operational responsibility for the improvements will be responsible for management of design and construction.