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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.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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