In the Quad Cities, USA, the Bison Bridge project aims to repurpose Fred Schwengel Memorial Bridge on Interstate I-80 to create a wildlife crossing that provides safe passage for bison herds.
Besides saving Illinois millions in demolition costs, this initiative could also attract tourists to this somewhat overlooked part of the country. Indeed, the bridge would feature a prairie strip for the bison to roam as well as a pedestrian area including viewing stations and cafés.
The project is currently in the study and waiting for the approval of the State of Illinois and the Federal Highways Administration. If everything goes according to plan, the construction should begin in 2026 after the design and engineering phases.
Why does it matter? The bison was a key species for the Native American tribes as it provided them with food, clothing, shelter and was central to their cultural and spiritual belief systems. They also played a crucial part in the plains’ ecosystem until overhunting brought their numbers down to 300.
This project is the perfect opportunity to educate the American people on the bison while improving biodiversity and boosting the local economy.