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wildlife crossing I-80 Parleys Canyon
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Wildlife bridge crossing opens over I-80 in Parleys Canyon

Traffic moves on I-80, under a wildlife crossing by Parleys Summit, in Park City on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

JEREMY RANCH — A new, one-of-a-kind wildlife overpass bridge is now open across I-80 in Parleys Canyon.

wildlife bridge moose parleys canyon

A moose walks in the vicinity of Utah’s first overpass built solely for wildlife crossings over I-80 near Parley’s Summit on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (Photo: John Gleason, UDOT)

As reporters gathered to see the new overpass for themselves, a moose appeared a short distance away, evidently checking things out.

“We are hoping, in fact, we are optimistic, that big game animals will utilize this,” Scott Root with the Division of Wildlife Resources says. “Especially because there was a big cow moose just 100 yards from us a few minutes ago.”

Root says the division studied carefully exactly where to place the bridge.

“I think the wildlife are just as excited as we are,” he said, referring to the moose.

“We’ve seen more than 100 wildlife-vehicle collisions in the past couple of years. This bridge is going to alleviate some of those concerns,” Utah Department of Transportation spokesman John Gleason added.

He says the hope is that it keeps deer, elk and moose moving safely, while also protecting drivers.

The bridge, which cost $5 million, is surrounded by miles of fencing to help direct animals to the safe crossing and away from the six-lane freeway. It is also landscaped to match the natural surroundings.

The bridge is 320 feet long, 50 feet wide, and crosses above Parleys Canyon near the summit.

Root says now that the work is finished, humans will need to steer clear — so the animals will accept it as part of their migratory route.