U.S. 285 Wildlife Safety Enhancements Create Interest

June 29, 2018 - Southwestern Colorado/CDOT Region 5 - Project completion scheduled for August


Deer guards are much wider than the more familiar cattle guard, to prevent deer from jumping onto the highway.

NATHROP, CO – Work to construct a wildlife underpass, deer guards and deer fencing on U.S. Highway 285 is scheduled to be completed at the end of August, originally slated for July. The project started back in March with prime contractor, Sema Construction and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), implementing new safety measures for wildlife entering the highway as well as a new left-turn lane onto Chaffee County Road 301/Fisherman’s Bridge.

The $3.5-million-dollar project addresses a section of highway where 70 percent of all reported accidents are wildlife-vehicle collisions. The area is located just north of the U.S. 24 and 285 intersection (Johnson’s Village) and proceeds south to Nathrop’s city limits. Project Engineer, Andrea Meduna, says “Statistics show that accidents can be reduced by more than 75 percent with the type of mitigation we are constructing in this busy corridor.”

The installation of new deer guards at the entrance of private residents and other public roads throughout the construction zone have drawn attention, says Meduna. “They’re quite a bit larger than cattle guards, which has created some interest from motorists” she explains. “They range from 16-feet to 36-feet-long by sixteen-feet wide and they prevent deer from jumping onto the highway.”

Eight-foot-tall fencing is also being erected for the same purpose. The fencing is located on both sides of U.S. 285 running from approximately mile marker 145.5 to mile marker 147.0 Additionally, wildlife escape ramps, large earthen structures also called “jump-outs,” allow animals to get back over the fence to safety, should they get trapped within the highway corridor. All three measures help to funnel wildlife into the underpass for safe crossing.


The Colorado Department of Transportation would like to remind cyclists to please obey the Colorado law for bicycles, which states: “A person riding a bicycle or electrical assisted bicycle has all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle.” This means in the construction zone, please follow vehicle traffic. Meduna says, “We’ve been seeing cyclists riding on the wrong side of the construction barriers, which is a safety concern. We have large pieces of equipment operating in that area. Flaggers are available to help cyclists navigate the construction area successfully.”

Additionally, with busy summer traffic starting, the construction crew is asking drivers to please adhere to the speed reductions to keep everyone safe.   


  • Normal working hours will be from 6 AM to 7 PM, Monday through Friday. In special cases these hours may be extended or weekend work performed.


  • Lane shifts and one lane closures

  • Shoulder closures

  • Weekend work is not anticipated

  • Up to ten-minute travel delays

  • Wide load restriction of 10 feet or greater


For more information or to be added to our public outreach list to receive construction updates, please contact:

Phone: 970-903-1110

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.codot.gov/projects/us285-wildlifeunderpass-nathrop/

Wildlife underpass structure being constructed under US 285 between Buena Vista and Salida, near the community of Nathrop.

Deer fencing will help channel wildlife into the underpass. The eight-foot-tall fence will stretch approximately one-quarter mile south of the underpass and approximately one mile north of the underpass.