Construction on the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing kicked off Tuesday, with officials giving the media a tour of the area to highlight the progress.  

“So many people have supported this for so long. It’s happening,” said Beth Pratt, with the National Wildlife Federation.  

Since the project’s groundbreaking ceremony in April, crews had been working to relocate utilities in anticipation of major construction.  

The project, designed to allow mountain lions and other wildlife to cross safely over the 101 Freeway near Liberty Canyon Road, has been decades in the making and billed as the largest crossing of its kind in the world.  

“If we don’t do this, mountain lions will likely not be here in our lifetime because of this isolation,” Pratt told KTLA.  

Several mountain lions have been struck and killed while crossing busy roads and highways, including the 101 Freeway, since 2020. 

“This wildlife crossing could not have come at a better time,” Jeff Sikich, with the National Park Service, said.  

He added that seven cougars have been killed from vehicle strikes already this year, five of which were part of a study and wearing GPS collars.  

Caltrans Project Manager Sheik Moinuddin said he anticipates construction-related closures on the 101 Freeway near Liberty Canyon, but not for a few months.  

“Probably going to be between about 38 to 40 closures,” Moinuddin told KTLA. “So, basically, let’s say, hypothetically, about 20 closures in each direction.”  

The wildlife project, which is funded by a public and private partnership is estimated to cost $88 million and be completed in 2025.