Everything you need to know about the Teton Pass closure - East Idaho News

Everything you need to know about the Teton Pass closure

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Crews are working to figure out how to repair the collapse of the Teton Pass. | Courtesy Wyoming Department of Transportation.
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JACKSON, Wyoming — After the “catastrophic failure” of Wyoming Highway 22 on one of the West’s most highly used mountain passes, officials are providing guidance for navigating around the Teton Pass in the upcoming months.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) closed access to Wyoming Highway 22 over the Teton Pass Thursday and Friday due to a landslide at milepost 12.8 and a mudslide at milepost 15.

On Thursday afternoon, Teton Pass was closed when large cracks in the roadway were discovered at milepost 12.8. It was temporarily patched and reopened.

According to WYDOT, on Friday morning, the highway over the Teton Pass was closed again at 4:18 a.m. after a mudslide came down at milepost 15, near the scale house, breaching both travel lanes.

Later, on Friday night, a landslide at milepost 12.8, the same place as the initial cracks, caused a “catastrophic failure” of the pass.

People in Teton County, Wyoming, home to Jackson, known as the tourism capital of Wyoming, expect the economic impact of the pass damage to be substantial.

In 2023, the county generated over $1.7 billion in travel and tourism-related spending.

From July 2022 to June 2023, tourism to Teton County generated $10 million in lodging tax funds, and created 7,890 tourism-related jobs.

RELATED | ITD assists WYDOT as travelers must detour with closure of Teton Pass

More than 2,500 workers living in Idaho drive the Teton Pass every day to get to work, contributing highly to the county’s revenue through their daily commutes, according to the state’s website.

The Jackson Hole News & Guide reported that more than 50 of those employees work in Jackson schools.

Due to the damage, these workers must now use alternative routes. This adjustment is expected to lead to an uptick in traffic congestion, especially as the summer season approaches.

Because of this, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon issued an emergency declaration Saturday, promising additional resources from the Federal Highway Administration to begin repairs on the pass.

RELATED | Teton Pass road has ‘catastrophically failed’

“We are closely monitoring this ongoing situation, and Wyoming Department of Transportation personnel are working diligently to develop a long-term solution to rebuild this critical roadway,” Gordon said. “I recognize the significant impacts this closure has to Teton County residents, regional commuters and the local economy.”

What is happening now to fix the pass?

Many construction workers and geologists are working around the clock to devise the best methods for opening the pass as safely and efficiently as possible.

According to a news release from the Wyoming Department of Transportation, geologists and engineers are evaluating the area and developing a long-term plan to rebuild the road.

WYDOT says the geologists and engineers are confident they can build a safe, temporary detour around the slide area using local fill material and paving two temporary lanes. They hope to have a temporary detour open to the public in a few weeks, likely with some strict weight and width restrictions.

There is no estimated timeline for any final construction. In preparation for the reconstruction, WYDOT will fly the area with a survey plane and conduct geological drilling.

“This is being considered an extended closure, and there currently is no estimated opening date,” according to the release. “WYDOT crews have been working closely with other agencies and partners to secure the area and explore potential interim access, as well as long term reconstruction options.”

RELATED | Teton Pass closed for second time in two days after mudslide

Crews continue to manage the mudslide at milepost 15, and geologists and engineers are working on a plan to provide more drainage to the affected area by installing a box culvert.

“They are planning to do this work simultaneously with the temporary detour work at milepost 12.8,” according to the release. “The work is dependent on availability of crews and materials, but WYDOT’s goal is to have this work completed when the temporary detour at 12.8 is ready for limited traffic.”

Teton Pass | Courtesy Wyoming Department of Transportation
Teton Pass | Courtesy Wyoming Department of Transportation

Can I still get to Jackson?

You can still get to Jackson — it will just take a bit longer. The closure only impacts driving between Jackson, Wyoming, and Teton County, Idaho.

  • If traveling from the west, drive through Swan Valley and Snake River Canyon and enter Jackson from Hoback, Wyoming. From Idaho Falls, this takes about 2 hours.
  • If traveling from the north, take Wyoming 191 through the national parks. From Island Park, this takes about 2 hours and 55 minutes.
  • From traveling from the southeast, drive through Pinedale and Hoback Canyon.

Who is most impacted?

The most impacted town is Victor, Idaho, which houses travelers who often travel to Jackson. Before the closure of the pass, the typical travel time from Victor to Jackson was about 40 minutes, going a distance of 24 miles.

The alternative route with Swan Valley to Alpine, then up the Snake River Canyon, is a distance of 85 miles, which means a total driving time of nearly 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Is Jackson still operating as normal?

Yes, businesses in Jackson, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park are still operating as usual.

The city implemented a new commuter system effective Monday.

RELATED | New photos and details: Large chunk of Wyoming’s Teton Pass road collapses; unclear how quickly it can be rebuilt

The START Bus transit system has revised the Summer Season 2024 schedule for the Teton Valley Commuter due to the Wyoming Hwy 22/Teton Pass closure.

Transfers will now occur at Maple Way (a.m.) and Hampton Inn (p.m.), instead of Stilson Transit Center. Hungry Jack’s Wilson bus stop is closed for all START Bus services, effective immediately until further notice.

START Bus fares remain unchanged at $8 per one-way for commuter patrons. START will continue to honor all bus passes and encourages you to consider supporting traffic reduction throughout the summer season by riding the bus, walking, riding a bike or using a rideshare program.

Check www.startbus.com for details on all these summer routes, schedules and fees or contact START Bus directly at (307) 733-4521.

The city recommends if you have further questions about travel plans, to contact the city of Jackson Chamber of Commerce at (307) 733-3316 or directly call local lodging or businesses for up-to-date information on operations and services.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly states the mileposts where the landslide and mudslide occurred. The details have been corrected. EastIdahoNews.com apologizes for the error.