Deer falling. jumping from new bridges on PA Turnpike


Mar 11, 2001
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Watch out for falling deer

By Chris Buckley, Valley Independent (Pittsburgh)

May 10, 2002

The Mon/Fayette Express-way, cutting through rural Washington County and carried by some of the highest bridges in the state, has resulted in a hazard for deer.

Three deer have either fallen or jumped off bridges on the 17-mile expressway section since construction began, said Joe Agnello, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Com-mission.

The expressway section linking Interstate 70 in Fallowfield Township to Route 51 in Large was opened to traffic on April 12.

Agnello said he considers the number of deer killed to be relatively small. State statistics bear out Agnello's assessment.

Mel Schake, spokesman for Pennsylvania Game Commis-sion's southwest region, said 40,000 to 45,000 deer per year are killed on commonwealth roadways. Based on those figures, 110 to 125 deer each day die on state highways.

In comparison, the three deer deaths on the Mon/Fayette Expressway occurred while the highway was under construction, a process that began in 1996. Most of the work, though, occurred from 1999 to 2001.

One reason for concern over deer is the proximity of the highway to rural, wooded sections of Washington County.

Another reason why deer are a concern is that the 17-mile section contains four of the five highest bridges in the turnpike system:

A pair of 252-foot bridges over Route 88 in Finleyville.

A set of 205-foot spans over Old Route 71 and Maple Creek in Fallowfield Township.

Dual, 195-foot bridges over Park Avenue in Monongahela.

A pair of 180-foot bridges over Wisebecker Lane in Carroll Township.
The others are a pair of 190-foot spans on the Northeast Extension in Carbon County.

In an attempt to keep deer away from the bridges, the Turnpike Commission has doubled the size of fences in some areas. The idea is to nudge deer toward areas where motorists can see the animals better and where the deer are safer.

"If deer insist on coming out onto the road, let's at least encourage them to come out in an area where they can be seen," Agnello said.

Wildlife passageways were built on the Beaver Valley Expressway to deal with a similar problem, but environmentalists have declared such measures to be relatively ineffective.

Chris Buckley can be reached at or (724) 684-2642.

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