Summit Middle School student’s artwork will be displayed over Highway 9 |

Summit Middle School student’s artwork will be displayed over Highway 9

Summit Middle School student Adam Kolasinski's depiction of a wildlife overpass crossing State Highway 9 will be displayed at one of the constructed overpasses in the future.
Elise Reuter / |

safe passage contest honorees:

Summit Middle School winner: Adam Kolasinski, 8th grade

West Grand Middle School winner: Angel Castillo, 8th grade

Summit Middle School first runners up:

Calista Luetkens, 6th grade

Adam Thomas, 7th grade

Lillian Svoboda, 8th grade

Summit Middle School second runners up:

Brian Waugh, 6th grade

Zach Smith, 7th grade

Hunter Stimson, 8th grade

Summit Middle School finalists:

Abby Schierholz, 8th grade

Jasmine Laube, 8th grade

Two local students’ artwork will be on display over State Highway 9 once wildlife and safety improvements to the 11-mile stretch of road are complete.

For the Safe Passage Art and Essay contest, one Summit Middle School student and one West Grand Middle School student’s depictions of the highway will be shown on billboards across two planned wildlife overpasses.

“This was a really hard contest to judge,” said Michelle Cowardin, a Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologist who looked over more than 100 submissions. She added that the idea for the billboards came from a similar project in Washington.

Eighth-grader Adam Kolasinski’s detailed depiction of a wildlife overpass was chosen from Summit Middle School, while eighth-grader Angel Castillo’s sketch was selected from West Grand Middle School. The contest, hosted by the Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Blue Valley Ranch, chose essays and illustrations that emphasize the importance of wildlife safety and habitat connectivity.

Prior to the project, Highway 9 was known as the site of several wildlife collisions, with 287 wildlife mortalities from 2006-09, and more than 100 vehicle collisions in that timeframe. The highway runs through a habitat several deer, elk and other wildlife cross to reach more hospitable conditions in the winter.

Construction for the project began in April of 2015, with plans for five overpasses and two underpasses along the stretch of road, more than any other highway in Colorado. Phase one is set to be complete by December, with the first four wildlife crossings in place, in addition to a highway realignment, guardrails and other safety improvements.

“We have one more concrete pour for the overpass structure,” CDOT project engineer Justin Kuhn said. ”We hope to have the project done by Thanksgiving but it will likely be the first week of December.”

The team is currently working on erosion control and fencing, with expected delays of about five minutes from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. Once the first phase of construction ends for the winter season, six of the 11 miles will be improved and ready for motorists and wildlife.

Phase two of the project will resume next spring, with a tentative project completion date for next fall.

Cowardin said she hoped to display more of the submissions at visitor centers around the state, and local businesses in Summit County. The two billboards will go up after construction resumes next spring.

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