KING COUNTY, Wash. — It's been more than a year since a wildlife crossing at Northeast Novelty Hill Road in Redmond opened to animals.
"This is fundamentally a safety project. This is one of the busiest roads in unincorporated King County, and that's intersecting with a really healthy and active wildlife corridor," said Rick Brater, county road engineer for the King County Road Services Division.
>>PHOTOS: Animals at wildlife crossing in Redmond
Even though Brater says it usually takes about 3 to 5 years for animals to start using crossings like this one, it's already being used.
"We saw deer cross almost immediately as we opened it up," Brater said.
The county says the crossing protects not only animals, but also drivers.
"Having that facility really reduces the hazard of collisions out there," Brater said.
Jay Schnebly hit a deer on the road years ago. He wasn't hurt, but his car was damaged.
"It would have been nice for that deer -- it was an old deer -- to have been able to use that thing," Schnebly said.
He still thinks the price tag is a bit steep. The crossing cost taxpayers $5.5 million.
"I think that $5 million is a ton of money," Schnebly said.
The county said the money for the project came from a federal grant that could be used only for this purpose.
"It was an opportunity to apply for a project that we otherwise couldn't afford, so we did, and we were successful," Brater said.
Since it was finished last May, there have been no reports of animals hit by cars in the area of the crossing.
"I think right now we can say it's very successful," Brater said.