8/30/2014

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King County wildlife crossing still raising questions

King County wildlife crossing still raising questions
REDMOND, Wash. -- For a small furry creature digging away along Novelty Hill Road near Redmond, dinner is near his paws, but the wheels of an SUV are just feet away.

So why can't the little guy cross the road via a bridge?

The King County road maintenance department is building a "wildlife crossing" on the busy road in order to help animals get from one side of the forest to the other.

"The deer and the bear and the cougar are going to figure out how to get in it," said Carol Kufelct.

She supports the project and says rampant development in the Redmond and Duvall area creates a conflict between animals and humans.

"People moved out here for the country and the animals. And they want to see them," she said.

The $5.3 million project is fully funded by the federal government. It comes to King County through a grant, and the money can't be used on other projects like widening or potholes.

Duvall resident John Hawkins calls it a waste.

"I laughed it off. I thought, that's ridiculous. No one would waste money on that," he said.

Hawkins says even though it was a grant, he thinks the county is spending just to spend.

"I think they just had money and they wanted to spend it," Hawkins said.

The county counters that 20,000 cars drive on the road every day and that similar projects have been successful all over the country. It's new to King County, but division head Rick Brater said it is beneficial.

"If you locate it right, we design it right, they seem to work very well," Brater said.

He pointed to an accident last month when a young woman was killed after a deer hit her car and then a semi later smashed her pulled-over vehicle.

The bridge is expected to be finished by the end of the year, but the support and criticism aren't stopping. Hawkins simply shakes his head.

"It seems a little frivolous," he said.

Kufelct says it's a novel idea along Novelty Hill Road. "What better place to try it than out there?"
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