U.S. 95 closed indefinitely after more boulders crash onto highway
RIGGINS — A section of U.S. Highway 95 is closed indefinitely as more boulders came pouring down onto the roadway last week.
Authorities have been working to clear the road since an initial rock slide in early July, but on Thursday, even bigger boulders tumbled down the mountain onto the highway.The slope above the highway remains too unstable to allow for traffic or rock removal crews in the area.
“The highway will remain closed until we are able to evaluate this new development and determine the best option to safely stabilize the slope.” Idaho Transportation Department Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said in a news release.
The department had already built a temporary gravel road to detour traffic around the base of the slide, but continued significant movement on the slope closed it on July 8.
“The extensive rock fall that occurred last night confirmed that we had made the right decision to completely close that portion of US-95 to traffic,” Hopkins said.
On Monday, crews will again begin scaling the slope and surveying the area.
“Currently there are a lot of overhanging boulders and ledges,” stated Hopkins. “We don’t yet know how stable these are and until we are able to further evaluate the area, crews will not be able to engage in rock removal operations.”
Old Pollock Road will continue to serve as a detour around the slide during daytime hours – 6 a.m. – 8 p.m. PDT (7 a.m. – 9 p.m. MDT). The detour will remain closed at night in order for crews to perform maintenance operations on the roadway, which typically does not see this amount of traffic.
“It’s very important that we maintain the integrity of Old Pollock Road so that it can continue to serve as a viable option for detouring traffic during this time,” Hopkins said.
The slope and area around the slide is considered extremely hazardous. ITD is asking citizens to stay away from the area for their safety. The department is also asking drivers choosing to use the detour, to ensure that they drive attentively in order to keep traffic flowing.
“The proven unpredictability of this slide requires that we remain flexible,” Hopkins said. “While our goal is to safely reopen the highway as soon as possible, we are very thankful that no one has been injured and will focus our efforts to ensure that it remains that way.”
At present, there is no estimated time for reopening of the highway.