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Environmental imperatives and the engineering interface: how to make hard decisions


Parks Canada has been engaged in upgrading the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff National Park since 1979. A severe wildlife/vehicle collision problem existed and was predicted to worsen unless mitigation measures were employed. Permission to twin the highway from two lanes to four lanes was granted in phases, subject to exceptional environmental protection measures. Forty-five kilometers of highway have been twinned with 2.4-m-high fences and 24 large crossing structures. Parks Canada now is planning a 33-km continuance of the highway twinning project, with a 12-km segment presently under construction. Innovative environmental protection measures, based on the successes of earlier initiatives, are being employed. The most obvious of these measures have been fences and wildlife crossing structures to safeguard the rich assembly of wildlife resident or transient in the Bow River Valley. Valued ecosystem components include 12 species of large, highly transient Rocky Mountain wildlife, all subject to habitat fragmentation and vehicle collision. The species include protected native fish, Harlequin ducks, and a rich biodiversity in a high profile World Heritage Site. Parks Canada has a legal duty to maintain or restore ecological integrity in such undertakings. Research, planning, and design have high visibility in the presence of a motivated public who vigorously express divisive viewpoints. This presentation will explain: • How new designs respond to scientific imperatives • Science and social lessons learned • How to manage the confrontation of rhetoric and reality • How the future looks different than the past

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