More about new 45 mph signs on S. Highway 89

Wildlife advisory signage on S. Highway 89. (JH Wildlife Foundation)

Motorists have noticed new signage on South Highway 89—several have contacted Buckrail for further explanation.

According to WYDOT resident engineer Bob Hammond, the new 45 mph wildlife signs are advisory in nature. They have been put up to cover the section of highway between town limits and the new wildlife underpass crossing.

While there is no plan to make these signs binding in the way of nighttime speed reduction or permanent speed reduction, WYDOT hopes the enhanced presence of the signs will catch the eyes of motorists and get them slowing down some and using more caution.

The signs, which were erected by the Wyoming Department of Transportation as part of a collaborative effort with Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation (JHWF), the Town of Jackson, and Teton County, to encourage caution and slower speeds for the safety of the driver, and for the good of wildlife. They include an advised speed that should be considered at all times, but is especially important to observe from dusk to dawn and during winter when snow accumulations push animals onto or near the highways.

JHWF’s wildlife-vehicle collision data suggest that these locations are known “hotspots” for wildlife crossing throughout the year, so it is best always to be alert where these signs are posted. In the winter of 2016-2017, the 2.4-mile stretch of South Highway 89 that is now defined by the new wildlife advisory signs was the most dangerous for drivers and wildlife, with several dozen wildlife mortalities recorded. The 1.8-mile stretch of WY 22 now flanked by wildlife advisory signs was also an extreme “hotspot.” Like other yellow highway warning signs, the intended message is to proceed through the zone with caution.

“We were very pleased and honored to work with WYDOT and our local government partners to implement as many new measures as possible in anticipation of winter wildlife movement through the valley,” said JHWF executive director Jon Mobeck. “To the great credit of WYDOT and our local government, several actions were taken within a matter of weeks. All involved felt that these measures were the most effective and feasible near-term actions.”