Animal crossing

Our nutty neighbor to the west continues to be the motherlode of "you can't make this stuff up" stories.

Here's the latest:

The California Department of Transportation is planning to replace an overpass near Los Angeles that crosses the San Diego Freeway, otherwise known as Interstate 405. As part of the project, they're going to spend $455,000 -- which could balloon to $1.4 million if environmentalists pushing for an expansion get their way -- to build a special lane to help coyotes, opossums, deer, bobcats and other wildlife navigate their way over the highway.

The money for all this comes from a voter-approved bond measure to raise money to improve the state's transportation infrastructure. It's doubtful the voters were told that some of the cash would be used to create special lanes for critters -- but, hey, it's only taxpayer money.

"The plan has split residents of wealthy west side enclaves," the Los Angeles Times reports, "where the impulse to be environmentally correct is clashing with frustration over the tortoise-like pace on area roadways."

Paul Edelman, a biologist with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, told the Times that as many as four dozen bobcats live near the project, as well as 150 deer. "In today's dollars, doing this to improve the quality of open space and solve a serious wildlife issue is a drop in the bucket," he said.

The state Transportation Department even plans to build a 5-foot high wall so animals won't be able to see the highway. Traffic can make them nervous, you know.

There's no word on whether Bambi will be able to read the signs directing her to the proper freeway crossing. "What are they going to do," one local resident asked the Times, "have Doctor Dolittle standing there directing animals to use the bridge?"

In California, of course, that's probably next.