Rough-skinned Newt

Alma Bridge Road Newt Passage Project

Midpen is partnering with Santa Clara County and several other agencies to investigate feasibility, prepare an Alternatives Analysis and preliminary designs, and perform associated environmental and engineering services to improve wildlife connectivity primarily for California newts across Alma Bridge Road near Lexington Reservoir.

In October 2023, the Midpen board approved advancing two viable solutions identified in the Alternatives Analysis and Basis of Design Report. Both involve elevated sections of roadway coupled with wildlife passages under the road. The project team is now beginning to design and further evaluate the two options by conducting environmental studies required under California law.

A study completed in 2021 estimates that, of the nearly 14,000 adult California newts that attempted to cross the road during the rainy season in 2020-21 from their dry-season upland foraging habitat to their rainy-season breeding grounds during the survey period, almost 40% were killed by vehicle collisions. The California newt (Taricha torosa) and rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa), closely related species, are both present in the Los Gatos Creek watershed.

Natural Resources Protection and Restoration
Natural Resources
illustration of a notebook with images of animals on cover

Project Goals:

The 2021 Study built upon on several years of community science data collection. Since their monitoring began in 2017, they have recorded over 27,000 newts killed on the roadway.

Although Midpen does not have jurisdiction over Alma Bridge Road (Santa Clara County owns and maintains the road and right-of-way), we are committed to working with the County and other regional partners to identify corrective actions, provide funding and support the implementation of long-term solutions to reduce road-related newt mortality. 

A stakeholder working group comprised of landowners, public and private agencies, environmental advocacy and recreational groups and residents and neighbors worked together to develop the Midpen board-approved project goals:

  • Reduce roadkill and provide habitat connectivity to sustain local newt population.
  • Be correctly scaled, meaning the wildlife crossing can be designed, environmentally cleared, permitted and implemented (funding dependent).
  • Be cost effective.
  • Be maintainable.
  • Not impede road safety, hydrology or public use.
  • Facilitate existing and future use of Alma Bridge Road and surrounding areas and facilities, including:
    • Continued vehicle use of the roadway and parking areas.
    • Continued and future recreational access to existing facilities and trails as well as future parking and trails (such as the Beatty Parking Area and Trails Project).
    • Have support from stakeholders.

    Additional information about this project can be found in the informational item from the October 11, 2023, board of directors meeting.

    On November 7, 2023 Santa Clara County amended and restated the Cooperative Agreement between Midpen and the County detailing how the agencies are working together to provide wildlife passages across Alma Bridge Road. 

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    In January 2024, Midpen provided a status update on the project. Watch a recording of the meeting below to get an overview on the project's background, detailed alternatives and the next steps in the project process. 



    Midpen notified of high newt mortality by a trail patrol volunteer. Surrounding agencies notified.
    2019POST and Midpen begin working with H. T. Harvey to build upon and analyze community science data to better understand the issue
    2021H.T. Harvey Study Final Report finalized
    2022Consultant award of contract to begin feasibility investigations, preparation of an Alternatives Analysis and preliminary wildlife crossing designs, and associated environmental and engineering services
    2023Completed Alternatives Analysis and Basis of Design report. Authorized the start of Phase II of the project including environmental studies and clearance, 65% design and initiation of regulatory permitting.
    2027Current construction estimate (project approvals and funding dependent)


    Partners and Stakeholders

    Midpen is coordinating with several organizations, including:

    Santa Clara County Roads and Airports Department
    Santa Clara County Parks Department 
    Valley Water

    San Jose Water Company
    Community scientists
    Audubon Society
    Sierra Club
    Los Gatos Rowing Club
    Center for Biological Diversity
    US Geologic Survey 
    California Department of Fish and Wildlife
    Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST)
    Bay Area Ridge Trail
    Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Stewards
    Vulcan Materials Company