Long-Sought Wildlife Crossings Included In I-4 Expansion Plans

It has been increasingly difficult for wildlife to safely cross the section of Interstate 4 that bisects the southern edge of the Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern since it opened to traffic more than half a century ago.

Ancient Islands members Marian and John Ryan have been working to secure such a crossing since 1992, but have encountered repeated delays by transportation officials.

Some relief may be on the far horizon.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reviewing a permit to install wildlife crossings under I-4 east of County Road 557 through sections of Hilochee Wildlife Management Area.

This will come in connection with the planned future widening of this section of the highway sometime in the future—the project is unfunded– and as a result the construction schedule for this section or a section farther east in Polk County is undetermined.

The only crossing beneath this section of I-4 today is a narrow crossing between two upland areas that was built to allow vehicles and cattle to cross after the original highway project divided a private ranch that once occupied the property.

The proposed wildlife crossing , which is to be located between the existing underpass and the County Road 557 interchange, would accommodate movement of wildlife inhabiting wetlands.