The Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency board voted Thursday to approve a $2.9 million contract to install wildlife fencing along nearly two-and-a-half miles of the 241 toll road in Orange County.
The contract calls for 10-to-12 foot fencing topped with barbed wire along both sides of the toll road. It’s designed to funnel large animals like deer, mountain lions, and coyotes towards culverts and underpasses that were built into the road to allow them to cross safely.
The project also includes ramps that would allow animals trapped on side of the fence to escape to the other side.
“There is no other project in California that has fencing designed to the level that we have planned for this project,” said Valarie McFall, director of environmental services for the Transportation Corridor Agency.
The contract would go to Crown Fence and is expected to be awarded in January, pending final approval and permitting by the California Department of Transportation. Construction would begin shortly afterwards and is projected to be completed by July.
A second phase of the project would include nearly three miles of fencing running from SR-91 down to SR-261. Researchers from the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center will monitor mountain lion usage of the crossings and then advise plans for the second phase.
The 241 toll road winds through known mountain lion habitat, and car strikes are among the leading cause of fatalities in mountain lions. McFall said at least two were struck along the road last year.
McFall said board members expressed interest in extending the fencing even beyond the original plans.
“Our board is so supportive of our staff’s plan to put this fencing in and even is looking to put more fencing in along the project,"she said. “It’s that important to them.”