Road kill rates ‘way down’ as endangered species cross in safety
By Katie Starr, Norfolk News
Turtles, snakes and other endangered species will continue to be able to safely cross the Long Point Causeway as phase two of the wildlife culvert project moves ahead.
Construction of three new culverts is due to begin this month and will end in November, said Rick Levick, co-ordinator of the Long Point Causeway Improvement Project Steering Committee. Levick was at council recently to discuss the second phase of the project, which seeks to reduce roadkill rates on the Causeway by getting animals to cross underneath the road in special tunnels.
Norfolk County is acting as liaison for the design and construction of the culverts and hadn’t allocated any money to the project, which is being funded by the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation. However, council has agreed to pay $4,500 in engineering fees and $2,000 for the construction of a guiderail, two expenses the LPWBRF is disputing. The guiderail is deemed necessary by the consulting firm because the vertical drop at the pre-existing aquatic culvert near the Canadian Wildlife Service facility poses a liability risk to the county, said public works manager Eric D’Hondt.
The LPWBRF doesn’t have the funding to pay for the guiderail, council heard. The non-profit organization is also unwilling to pay the engineering fees they feel are attributed to the guiderail. Nevertheless, both D’Hondt and Levick stressed the rapport between the county and the LPWBRF and the mutual commitment to the culvert project.
“We have a good working relationship with the foundation,” said D’Hondt. “It’s sometimes a little shaky because our department is focused on bridge work and road work, but we work through the issues.”
The money is to come from the county’s tax levy.
With the Causeway due to be redone in 2018, council raised concerns about the practicality of installing the culverts and a guiderail now before reconstruction takes place. D’Hondt explained that neither the culverts nor the guiderail will need to be relocated. “We don’t want to disturb what has been done there,” he said. “The culverts in place now and the culverts to be installed are strong and wide enough to withstand anything we decide to do in the future.”
The existing culverts, put in place last year, are working when it comes to driving down road kill rates, said Levick.
“Mortality so far this year is way down, particularly compared to 2011,” he said. “This is now the next big movement period for animals as winter approaches, so we’re collecting our data now and will have a count of traffic for each of the culverts later this fall. The idea of this program is we will never get to zero, but we want to get to a level where populations can sustain themselves.”