When the Ohio River is at normal levels, the deer travel harmlessly under the south approach spans of the US 41 Twin Bridges. However, when river levels approach 40 ft. on the Evansville gauge that normal travel route is blocked by floodwaters.
The deer then move up into Audubon State Park along Wolf Hills Road. When they congregate in sufficient numbers the deer start venturing across US 41 and come into contact with vehicles traveling the busy highway.
According to Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 2 Spokesperson Keith Todd, the deer normal start moving up in to the park when the river hits 38 ft. at Evansville. The National Weather Service forecast indicates the river will be at 38 ft. at about 6:00 p.m. this evening. Todd says that means sometime overnight the deer are likely to start trying to cross the highway. The river is expected to reach 40 ft. at Noon on December 2nd which will completely block the deer from their normal travel route under the bridges.
Variable message boards will be placed along US 41 near Audubon Park this morning to remind motorists to slow down and use caution in the area. Todd says the hydrology forecast indicates the Ohio River will remain elevated for about a week and any additional rain locally or upstream could extend that.
The deer cross US 41 between the 18 and 19 mile marker at the north edge of Henderson. The heaviest concentration of deer is generally between the entrance to Audubon State Park and the south end of the US 41 Twin Bridges approach levee. This is also the busiest section of highway in the 11 county region served by highway District 2 with about 38,000 vehicles a day crossing the bridges between Henderson and Evansville.
Dozens of the deer are hit and killed or injured by passing vehicles, so it's not good for the deer. It's also not good for drivers who also face the risk of injury. Plus, the average deer/vehicle collision causes about $3,000 in vehicle damage. Everyone should heed the warning signs and use appropriate caution due to the hazard created by the temporary deer crossing.
Information provided by Keith Todd
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