Transportation agencies are increasingly aware of the need to address the safety and conservation implications of wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVC) and wildlife movement needs, which are collectively addressed by the term wildlife vehicle conflict. As one of the fastest growing states in the nation, Arizona continues to see that wildlife-vehicle conflicts are an ongoing concern. This high-level study was designed to gather information on existing crash data, previous studies, wildlife linkage zones, wildlife habitat blocks, and industry best management practices to identify and evaluate existing and potential conflict areas around the state through data and geographic analyses and proactive site visits. This study included a multidisciplinary team of wildlife experts, planners, GIS specialists, risk managers, and traffic engineers. Agency partners included Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), Arizona Game and Fish Department, US Forest Service and Arizona Department of Public Safety. WVC were modeled in ArcGIS Optimized Hotspot Analysis with the Getis-Ord statistic to identify the crash hotspots for wildlife on state managed highways. These were prioritized, and 9 hotspots were further analyzed to determine: how to address wildlife concerns in upcoming transportation projects, how fences and other infrastructure could be upgraded and repaired to deter wildlife from entering state highways, and how new stand-alone projects could be created and funded to reduce crashes and promote wildlife connectivity across Arizona highways. A menu of potential mitigation options was considered in the field analysis. Options included nonstructural projects (signage, public education), sensor technology projects (animal detection systems), retrofitting projects (wildlife fencing and associated measures), drop-in structure projects (prefabricated passage structures, wildlife fencing and associated measures) and full reconstruction projects (new passage structures, wildlife fencing and associated measures).
The information gathered yielded a statewide wildlife needs list of potential projects to mitigate wildlife-vehicle conflict to inform ADOT’s Planning to Programming process (P2P). This proactive approach allows ADOT to prioritize projects for traditional funding and creates a programmatic system within which ADOT can fund projects should alternative funding sources become available. Based on field conditions, funding sources, and statewide priorities, this study will serve as a planning level tool to help ADOT prepare for future funding opportunities to address safety and ecological concerns. This presentation will discuss how the Getis-Ord Optimized Hot Spot Analysis (OHSA) tool can help identify hotspots, the importance and limitations of crash data, the creation of a matrix of information to address various different needs and funding sources, and the importance of field site visits to prescribe the most appropriate mitigation solutions.