Midpen is working with Caltrans to develop wildlife and regional trail crossings across State Highway 17 near the Town of Los Gatos. The Highway 17 Wildlife and Regional Trail Crossings were identified as a Top 25 Priority as part of the District’s Vision Plan. Measure AA, a $300 million bond approved by voters in 2014 will provide partial funding of $14 million for the project. Midpen is leading this locally, regionally and nationally important project and will collaborate with many partners and stakeholders to complete this work.
Highways can be dangerous places for both people and wildlife. Hwy 17—from the southern border of the Town of Los Gatos to just south of the Bear Creek Road overcrossing—has been identified as a “road kill hot spot”. This area is dangerous to both animals and humans who try to navigate a busy stretch of narrow highway. As a result, over the last ten years, 132 animals have been killed in this section of Hwy 17, including mountain lions, deer, and other animals. Wildlife accessible culverts and bridges are needed to provide safe crossing for wildlife in an increasingly urbanized landscape.
Hwy 17 has fragmented thousands of acres of open space in the Santa Cruz Mountains, limiting the ability of wildlife to find food, mates and habitat, and blocking several regional trail connections. Well-placed and appropriately designed crossings will help alleviate wildlife/vehicular collisions, enable wide-ranging animals like mountain lions to disperse, and provide recreational opportunities. To accommodate large animals and a variety of recreational trail users, one or more large crossing structures are needed.
- Provide for safe movement of wildlife and recreational trail users across Highway 17.
- Improve motorist safety by reducing the potential for collisions with wildlife (and recreational users).
- Maintain healthy wildlife populations.
- Improve regional trail connections.
As part of this project, Midpen will partner with the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council and others to approximately 30,600 acres of protected public lands on either side of Hwy 17.
These alternatives have been developed by Midpen staff through an extensive three-year process in partnership with project stakeholders, partner agencies and the public. Caltrans review of project alternatives is currently underway. The next phase of the project, environmental review, is scheduled to begin in late 2019.
Revised Alternatives Report and Public Comment
Crossing concepts and locations
|Ongoing||Partner development, stakeholder outreach, and funding.|
|2016 - 2018||Feasibility Study and Revised Alternatives Report|
|2018 - 2019||Caltrans Project Study Report|
|2019 - 2022||Environmental Review and Permitting|
|2020 - 2023||Plans and Specifications (Design)|
|2023 and beyond||Construction|
This project requires a high level of coordination and partnership. Partners in this project may include:
- Caltrans District 4
- UC Santa Cruz Puma Project
- Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority
- Santa Clara County Parks
- Santa Clara County Roads and Airports
- Santa Clara Valley Water District
- Peninsula Open Space Trust
- Pathways for Wildlife
- Bay Area Ridge Trail
- Juan Bautista de Anza Trail (National Park Service)
Midpen is continually developing additional partnerships and working with stakeholders to grow this list as the project develops.
New tunnels in Santa Cruz Mountains will provide cougars safe passage
San Jose Mercury News - October 15, 2016