Wildlife corridors to be built beneath Tangerine Road

Pictured above: 2012 footage provided by Arizona Game of Fish of the wildlife corridors on Twin Peaks Road. 

This week, Marana Town Council approved funding for five wildlife corridors beneath the Tangerine Road expansion project between Dove Mountain Boulevard and La Cañada Drive.  The project will involve the installation of five medium-sized mammal crossings that will accommodate animals such as bobcats and mountain lions. A report from the Arizona Game and Fish Department identified recommended locations for these crossings based on open space connectivity, existing and future development, and hydraulic design.

The Council designated these funds through the Wildlife Linkages Amendment to the Intergovernmental Transportation Funding agreement between the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and the Town of Marana.

“These corridors serve several purposes,” said Town of Marana Environmental Projects Manager Janine Spencer. “They provide a safe alternative route for wildlife crossings, and they serve as drainage conveyances for flooding prevention.”

The Tortolita Mountains north of Tangerine Road has been a critical area for wildlife linkages, and the Tangerine Road wildlife corridors are important for maintaining access between the Tortolita and the Tucson Mountains. Development of the corridors included a technical team of planners, engineers, biologists, hydrologists, and construction professionals due to the project’s challenges involving new roadway elevation and traffic management.

“This project has been a true partnering effort between Town of Marana, Town of Oro Valley, Pima County, Arizona Game and Fish Department, two design firms, two joint venture contractors, multiple utilities, and numerous businesses and residents,” Town of Marana CIP Project Manager Tom Houle said of the process.

The impact of these wildlife corridors is significant for animals and humans alike. The Arizona Game and Fish Department reported road-kill numbers of over one thousand animals per month between May and September in 2010.  Arizona Game and Fish Department counted a total of 88 species, including the desert tortoise, which is listed as Wildlife of Special Concern in Arizona.  Other species identified as road kill include badgers, grey fox, javelina, mule deer and Gila monsters. Motorist collisions with mule deer and javelina could also lead to serious accidents involving injury and damage.

With this week’s Town Council vote, Marana will construct five wildlife crossings beneath Tangerine Road, ranging between 6 and 9 feet in height. Full details of the construction can be found in the Wildlife Linkages Project Funding Proposal.

The Tangerine Road Corridor Project broke ground on March 8 this year, and is a collaborative effort involving Marana, Pima County, Oro Valley, and the Regional Transportation Authority to accommodate the current traffic demands and the increasingly rapid growth and development in the area. Over the next several years, construction crews will widen and flatten the road to create a seamless corridor that extends ten miles from Interstate 10 to La Cañada Drive and increases the safety of both drivers and wildlife. Improvements will also be constructed on Thornydale Road, La Cholla Blvd, and Camino de Mañana. The Phase I portion of the project is expected to be completed in two years. Learn more about the Tangerine Road Corridor Project here.