Heroes

This highway is about to get a lot more environmentally friendly. Check out I-90 in Washington.

"We wanted to find a project that both moved people and wildlife at the same time."

This highway is about to get a lot more environmentally friendly. Check out I-90 in Washington.

As part of a massive, nearly $1 billion highway project, Washington state will soon be home to one of the most wildlife-friendly roadways in the country.

Interstate 90 stretches across large swaths of the country, but it's the recent changes to the roadway in Washington that are making news — specifically, the steps being taken to accommodate regional wildlife.

Washington State Department of Transportation Assistant Regional Administrator for Construction and Development Brian White explained in a video for Conservation Northwest how they came about the idea of aiming for a truly wildlife-friendly approach, saying, "We wanted to find a project that both moved people and wildlife at the same time."


This year, the state completed Phase 1 of the project, including underpasses for animals such as deer and coyotes.

Located about an hour outside Seattle, the Gold Creek Bridges Undercrossing features a raised roadway, similar to a bridge over a waterway.

Images from WSDOT.

The local wildlife is then able to travel from one side of the interstate to the other without risking the safety of themselves or the drivers.

A number of other, smaller underpasses can also be found along the highway's path.

The next phase, which is currently under construction, will include the addition of overpasses designed for wildlife only.

There are several overpasses included in this phase — the largest of which is the Price/Noble Wildlife Overcrossing.

Wildlife overpasses look a lot like regular vehicle overpasses, with the exception of the "road" being replaced by trees, grass, and soil and the "cars" being replaced by deer and coyotes.

Why is this a good thing? It allows human expansion without making a negative effect on the environment any more severe than it needs to be.

Any sort of human-made structure is bound to have an effect on wildlife and the environment, but steps like these can help minimize the harm caused.

As the Seattle Times notes, some animals local to the area — such as cougars and bears — require large territories. Additionally, animals at risk for extinction benefit from not becoming separated from potential mates by a highway.

Financially, it's more cost-effective than you might think.

When you factor in collisions that happen as the result of wildlife trying to pass across highways, at least one report suggests that the added cost of building overpasses and underpasses may actually be a better long-term financial solution.

That is to say, yes, it's expensive to build these features into the larger project. At the same time, if it makes for fewer collisions and an improved relationship with the local environment, it really just makes sense.

Check out the Washington State Department of Transportation's simulation of the project's design below:

It'd be great to see more state infrastructure projects take on the kind of environment-conscious approach WSDOT is taking with their I-90 renovation.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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