Excerpt from http://arc-solutions.org/new-solutions/ website:
While Europe has many, indeed hundreds, of wildlife crossing structures, North America has relatively few. The best-studied and only overpass crossing structures are in Banff, Alberta. However, these structures were not designed specifically for wildlife; rather, they were conventional bridge structures which were adapted. They have proven remarkably successful in restoring ecological connectivity and in improving road safety, but could their capacities expand and the cost of their construction contract with a redesign expressly for their purpose?
New solutions to wildlife crossing infrastructure are intended to reduce the costs and to tailor each type of crossing to the specific species in various landscape contexts. We are also considering new solutions to the construction and material of these structures, as we may need to move, enlarge or downsize them based on changing wildlife movement patterns due to changes in habitats, climate or other factors. In the broadest sense, we aim to capitalize on the potential for crossing structures to tell a story—the story of our renewed relationship with wildlife and landscapes.
Wildlife crossing structures take many forms around the world; there are global solutions to providing safe passage. This example from the Netherlands incorporates a canal. Photo credit: RWS, Netherlands
“Roads and bridges used to be epic stories of human engineering triumphing over natural obstacles. ARC tells a new story. It’s about our capacity to build public infrastructure with and for nature, as well as people.” —Jeremy Guth, trustee, Woodcock Foundation and ARC founding sponsor
The time has come for new solutions in the evolving world of wildlife crossing structures. In general, new solutions should be:
- considered as early as possible in the transportation planning process so as to avoid the more costly problem of retrofitting or rebuilding;
- cost-effective in terms of materials, construction and maintenance;
- ecologically responsive to current and anticipated conditions;
- safe for humans and wildlife alike;
- flexible or modular for possible use in other locations;
- adaptive, to facilitate mobility of wildlife under dynamic ecosystem conditions;
- sustainable in terms of materials and energy use, and responsive to climate change;
- educational, revelatory and communicative to the public; and
- beautiful, engaging and remarkable.
The ARC competition’s winning design is only one example of the innovation needed for new solutions for wildlife crossings. The HNTB+MVVA scheme uses ordinary materials and technology as well as construction techniques that are well established and, in particular, accessible in many locations across the continent. This has significant potential to reduce construction costs and improve construction accessibility. This solution combines emphases on wildlife habitat, behaviour and viability, with a practical intelligence and concern for long-term sustainability. The ARC jury noted in particular that this scheme “marries well a simple elegance with a brute force. It effectively recasts ordinary materials and methods of construction into a potentially transcendent work of design. In this regard it gives us confidence that it could be credibly imagined as a regional infrastructure across the inter‐mountain west” (ARC Jury Report).
“We could easily say today that wildlife crossings are no longer design or technical challenges. We have every capacity to implement these structures. What we really need is political, economic and social leadership.” —Charles Waldheim, chair of Landscape Architecture, Harvard University, and ARC jury chair