Idaho, Wyoming Working on Teton Pass Road Repairs

Two catastrophic landslides wiped out a broad section of Wyoming State Highway 22 at Teton Pass on June 7, closing the road for the foreseeable future as road crews work to clear debris and construct temporary repairs.

[Above photo by the Wyoming DOT]

Commuters have been asked to detour around the closed roadway using US 26 through Swan Valley and then into the Snake River Canyon in Idaho.

“We understand this highway is a lifeline for commuters, deliveries, medical care access and tourism, especially with limited alternatives and the summer season upon us,” noted Darin Westby, director of the Wyoming Department of Transportation, in a statement.

“WYDOT engineers, surveyors and geologists mobilized quickly to try to maintain highway viability as long as possible, but catastrophic failure could not be avoided,” he added. “WYDOT remains on site decisively engaged on fixing the road and restoring connectivity to the Teton Valley. Safety is our utmost priority, and we ask that recreationists and curious residents avoid the area until it can be stabilized.”

[Editor’s note: The agency collected drone footage of the aftereffects of the landslide for the video below.]

The agency said geologists and engineers are evaluating the area and putting together a long term plan to rebuild the road – stressing that there is no current estimated timeline for that construction.

WYDOT is working closely with the U.S. Forest Service to provide access to recreation areas outside the slide area; noting that Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National park remain open for visitors.

The agency is also working with the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) to place signage on Wyoming State Highway 22 to allow users to access campsites unaffected by both the landslide at milepost 12.8 and the mudslide at milepost 15.

Photo by ITD.

ITD said its crews and equipment have also been helping WYDOT with debris cleanup. “They called immediately, we started on our side and they started on theirs,” said ITD Operations Foreman Lucas Richins in a statement. “It was a good team effort. We’re here to support on our side however we can to make it less strenuous.”

Richins said that seven ITD dump trucks initially hauled 80 to 90 loads of debris from the massive landslide; taking that material to a turnout a few miles away until a final determination is made governing reconstruction and cleanup efforts.

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon (R) also issued an Executive Order declaring an emergency in response to both the mudslide at milepost 15 and the landslide at milepost 12.8; a declaration that will help the state access additional resources from the Federal Highway Administration for the substantial repairs required to reopen this roadway.

Meanwhile, 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. Currently, WYDOT 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 – hoping to have a temporary detour open to the public, likely with some strict weight and width restrictions, in a few weeks. 

“WYDOT’s response through this crisis demonstrates the commitment, passion and ingenuity of our crews,” added WYDOT’s Westby in separate statement. “We certainly want to thank the Governor, the Federal Highway Administration, the Idaho Transportation Department, the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security, Evans Construction and the US Forest Service for their quick response, teamwork and dependability in our time of need.”

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