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Can a Fence Along I-280 Prevent Deer-Vehicle Collisions?

A UC-Davis study says there are more animal accidents along sections of the highway between Millbrae and Woodside due to proximity to open space areas.

Patch file photo
Patch file photo

Each year, 40-50 deer are hit by vehicles on Interstate 280 in San Mateo County, and a study conducted by UC-Davis concludes that a fence along a 22-mile stretch of the highway might just prevent the dangerous and costly collisions.

According to an article in Wednesday’s San Jose Mercury News, the two-year, $322,415 study was funded by the California Department of Transportation and conducted by the University of California Davis Road Ecology Center.

The author of the study, Fraser Shilling, says sections of the highway between Millbrae and Woodside have more animal accidents than others because of its proximity to the county's open spaces, including Crystal Springs Reservoir.

The study identified three main wildlife-vehicle collision hot spots -- a mile stretch between Hillcrest Boulevard and one mile south of Trousdale Drive, the Bunker Hill Drive crossing, and a half-mile span north of Farm Hill Boulevard.

"You've got some significant wildlife habitat right next to where people are driving 70 to 80 miles per hour," Shilling told the Merc.

As reported in Patch in December 2011, a CalTrans-funded project, carried out by UC-Davis, studied the movement and activity of deer in the area for an 18-month period.

Researchers tracked the movement of 24 deer with GPS collars from December 2011 through January 2013. Two of collared deer were hit by vehicles during that time.

Even when drivers manage to avoid hitting deer and other animals that cross the highway, they're put in a perilous situation by having to swerve in traffic, Shilling said.

Caltrans is reviewing the fencing recommendation, but has not "formally endorsed or rejected any of the proposals," Bob Haus, a department spokesman, told the Merc.

According to the study, a deer fence should be about eight feet tall to be effective. The fence would cost about $100,000 per mile to construct---for a total of $4 million. If existing fences along that stretch of the I-280 corridor are heightened, that cost could be reduced.

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