Construction of an ambitious 175 foot wide animal pathway over the 101 Freeway in has been impeded by winter rains. But the Liberty Canyon Overcrossing is still on schedule to open at the end of 2025.
That’s the headline from the Daily News at any rate. The builders of the Liberty Canyon Overcrossing had to deal with heavy rains last year and into this one. But builders anticipated delays. Last year’s rains also included massive snowfall that kept Mammoth Mountain open to skiers into early August.
The path is officially known as the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing. It is formally named after a principal donor to the project. It is in Liberty Canyon in Agoura Hills. It is hoped Liberty Canyon overcrossing will help accomplish two goals. The first is helping to lower the tragic number of vehicle related deaths among wildlife. Thousands of wild animals die in highway crashes annually in California. The crossing is part of a statewide effort to reduce the carnage. Deer, bears, mountain lions, bobcats and a host of other animals are destroyed each year. CalTrans is now actively working to reduce the death rate.
The second issue is inbreeding. Inbreeding is noted among local mountain lions. The 101Freeway is a near impassable barrier that prevents mammals from widening the gene pool by free movement to more rural areas.
The Liberty Canyon overcrossing may not have occurred except for the unexpected stardom of the late P-22. He was a mountain lion under study in the National Park Service survey of mountains in the Santa Monica Mountains. He lived for 12 years and crossed freeways at least twice. He was showing signs of age late last year. He was approaching people and attacking dogs. Researchers decided to re-capture him. He had been struck by a car and was suffering from terminal illness when re-captured in Mid-December,2022. He was euthanized due to his condition.
His fame, including photos of him strolling near the Hollywood Sign, galvanized the effort to help raise private funding for the estimated $67 million project. It is expected to be finished late in 2025.
Other projects similar to the LIberty Canyon Wildlife Overcrossing are being constructed around the world to help save local animals.