Three concurrent, full-day field trips were conducted Wednesday, June 26, to visit transportation project sites that demonstrate successful ecological and environmental solutions. Field trips were hosted by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD), and their regional partner organizations.
This tour examined the corridor upgrade of 17 miles of Arizona State Route 260 highway, located northeast of the city of Phoenix, which began in 2000 and is scheduled for completion in 2013. The tour explored how wildlife-vehicle collisions and habitat connectivity are an integral part of improving public safety and wildlife permeability of the highway. Tour stops included visiting wildlife crossing structures as well as an animal-activated detection system to learn about the adaptive management and challenges involved. Partnerships, research results and lessons learned were the primary focus of this field trip.
This tour highlighted the operational challenges associated with a highway traversing a National Forest and adjacent to an exceptionally scenic yet impaired waterway (Oak Creek). As the tour progressed out of the conifers and into the red rock country of the city of Sedona, tour stops addressed considerations in design and construction of the urban segment of highway through this destination community. The final leg of the tour discussed the considerations and adaptive changes made to accommodate a tremendous diversity of wildlife species in this urban/arid ecosystem interface.
This tour journeyed through Arizona’s tremendous ecological diversity from the lower Sonoran desert, up the Mogollan rim, into the Ponderosa pine stands around the city of Flagstaff, and through the Pinyon/Juniper woodlands on the edges of the Colorado Plateau. In route to the Grand Canyon, tour stops described proven and experimental practices being implemented by ADOT and AZGFD to increase permeability of high-volume highways while improving motorist safety. While in Grand Canyon National Park, presentations emphasized efficient, sustainable transportation solutions being implemented to preserve one of the world’s most famous landmarks. The park’s recently completed Transit Center has changed the visitor's experience while providing a greater opportunity to preserve the original context of this geological wonder. The return trip traveled through the western edge of the Navajo Indian Reservation along the Little Colorado River with spectacular views of the San Francisco Peaks.
SR 260 photo Jeff Gagnon, AZ Game & Fish Dept; Sedona and Grand Canyon photos Nancy Bailey, CTE.