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US 97A - Wildlife Fence - Complete September 2011

Complete Sept. 30, 2011
Click to Enlarge View entire map This project built a wildlife fence on US 97A north of Rocky Reach Dam in eastern Chelan County.

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  This one-way gate allows access for people and lets wildlife caught below the fence to push through, back uphill to their usual habitat.

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Bighorn sheep on the highway created a hazard for motorists.

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Cattleguard's like this allow vehicles to cross, but the wildlife won't. 

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A "pole setting" ceremony kicked off construction with the groundbreaking at Rocky Reach Dam July 21, 2009


Complete September 2011

  • The final segment - Stage 2 - completed the fence, between MP 203.13 and MP 206.40 began July 5 and was complete September 30, 2011.
  • Construction of the US 97A Wildlife Fence - 2010 Addition - began Sept. 7 and was complete Oct. 27, 2010.
  • Construction of the first 4-1/2 miles, stage one, began July 16, 2009 and was complete Dec. 2009. 

This entire safety enhancement project installed 9-miles of 8-foot tall wildlife fence on the west side of US 97A from Rocky Reach Dam to north of Spencer Canyon (MP 203 to MP 212) in Chelan County.

It is the first major steel post fence project of its kind in Washington. The selection was based on the longer lifespan, ease of construction, and wildfire survivability of steel posts versus wooden ones. The steel costs more, but installation is cheaper, so the total cost stayed about the same. The fence includes one-way animal push-gates and cattle guards on the access roads.

In an effort to ensure access through the fence for the public, one-way push gates are installed in draws and spaced about every 2,000 feet. These gates only swing one-way - uphill and are designed for wildlife that get below the fence to be able to get back uphill to their habitat. Eleven of these gates were installed in stage one.

The Wenatchee Sportsmen's Association has a website that includes a comprehensive frequently asked questions (FAQ) section describing how the fence affects behavior of deer and bighorn sheep.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held at Rocky Reach Dam July 21.

For more information on the wildlife fence click here (PDF 637 KB).

Why is WSDOT installing wildlife fencing on US 97A?
This corridor has one of the highest mule deer and big horn sheep mortality rates in Washington.  As many as 160 deer were reported killed along the highway during a severe winter between Wenatchee and Chelan.  By installing fence along this high wildlife kill section below the Swakane Wildlife Area, it was anticipated that a 50% reduction in the total vehicle-wildlife collisions for the entire corridor could be achieved.
While not based upon statistically valid methodologies, an 80% reduction in vehicle/wildlife collisions has been recorded since the first section of fencing was completed in 2009.

The End Result
Is to reduce collisions with bighorn sheep and mule deer, reducing damage to vehicles, while maintaining access to public lands. 

For more information about the WSDOT wildlife collision reduction effort, view the folio on our website.

Project Benefits

  • A significant reduction in vehicle-wildlife collisions.   
  • Protection of valuable wildlife.
  • Lower maintenance expenses


What is the project timeline?

  • Stage one construction began July 16, 2009 and was complete in Dec. 2009.
  • The 2010 Addition construction began Sept. 7 and was complete October 27.
  • Work on the final segment - Stage 2 - began July 5 and was complete September 30, 2011.

Financial Information

Project signage will reflect the cost of construction engineering, project bid award and sales tax.

The final segment - Stage 2 - completed the fence, adding another three miles between MP 203.13 and MP 206.40. It was advertised for private contractor bids April 25. Two qualified bids were opened May 25, 2011. On May 31, Contract #8146 was awarded to RM Shearer, Inc. for $467,360.00, 35% below the engineering estimate.

Stage 1 of this project was re-advertised for bids on May 11, 2009. Four qualified bids were opened on June 4. On June 8, contract #7770 was awarded to Hermiston Oregon's THG Construction, LLC for $844,530.50, $7,000 over the engineering estimate.

Total funding from all sources for stage 1: $1,441,000.

The US 97A Wildlife Fence - 2010 Addition -was advertised for private contractor bids on May 24, 2010. 4 qualified bids were opened June 24. On June 28, contract #7960 was awarded to Wesslen Construction, Inc. for $342,584.42, 26% below the engineering estimate.

The total estimated cost for design and construction of all stages is approximately $2.8 million.

The project is partially funded by these partners:

  • Wenatchee Sportman's Association:  $10,000
  • Seattle Sportsmen Conservation Foundation:  $10,000
  • Washington State, Foundation for North American Wild Sheep:  $10,000
  • State Farm Insurance:  $5,000
  • Mt. Vernon Mule Deer Foundation:  $2,132
  • Central Washington Mule Deer Foundation:  $1,036
  • Woodinville Mule Deer Foundation:  $1,032
  • Washington State Bowhunters:  $1,000
  • Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife:  $462,000
  • WSDOT funds: $948,670
  • Federal funds: $1.28 Million

How can I get more information?
Kevin Waligorski Project Engineer
WSDOT North Central Region
P.O. Box 98
Wenatchee, WA 98807
Phone: (509) 667-2860 or toll free (888) 461-8816

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