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Bozeman Pass Wildlife Channelization ITS Project

Project #: 425539
Start Date: 05/01/2004
End Date: 06/30/2009
Status: Completed

Biologists with the U.S. Forest Service have identified Bozeman Pass, between Bozeman and Livingston, Montana, as a high-priority, key passage area for wildlife movements between the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the Bob Marshall/Glacier Ecosystems in the Northern Rockies. The transportation corridor — consisting of Interstate 90, frontage roads and the MRL Railroad — bisects the wildlife passage area and creates a hazard to the animals that try to cross the highway. During 2001, 130 animal carcasses were recorded on a 21-mile stretch of highway and that number increased to 179 in 2002. Fencing and cattle guards to direct animals under the highway through culverts and bridge structures have proven to reduce animal-vehicle collisions, however, these techniques can be cost prohibitive when applied across long stretches of road. Public education campaigns and signing techniques are typically lower cost and, if applied appropriately, have the potential to increase driver alertness and reduce animal-vehicle collisions. This project will use Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) such as Dynamic Message Signs (DMS) that already exist on Bozeman Pass to motivate drivers to decrease speed and be aware of animal crossings. DMS are typically used to inform motorists of upcoming hazards, delays, detours or conditions that may influence their travel. They have not been tested for their effect on reducing animal-vehicle collisions in Montana. Researchers will compile information on ITS applications, driver behavior, and animal-vehicle conflicts to determine techniques that may change motorist behaviors to reduce the chance of animal-vehicle collision. With this information, researchers will test candidate ITS applications using a driver simulator and measure human subjects’ responses to a number of “virtual” scenarios of ITS applications and animal-vehicle interactions. Data collection of wildlife movements and animal-vehicle mortalities on the Pass will be used for the evaluation of the ITS project as well as the effectiveness of wildlife fencing. We will also assess how the ITS project affects the MDT maintenance operations on Bozeman Pass.


To evaluate the effectiveness of Intelligent Transportation Systems, combined with a public information campaign, to increase awareness of the high risk of animal-vehicle colisions on the Bozeman Pass and reduce the number incidents.