Home News Landslide takes out chunk of Wyoming’s Grand Teton Pass highway

Landslide takes out chunk of Wyoming’s Grand Teton Pass highway


Wyoming’s Grand Teton Pass highway, a major commuter thoroughfare between eastern Idaho and Jackson, is indefinitely closed after a landslide swiped a section off the mountain.

“The roadway at milepost 12.8 on Teton Pass has catastrophically failed, and a long term closure is expected,” the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) said in a short statement. “No crews were hurt in the process, and no equipment was damaged. WYDOT is now reviewing a long-term solution and repairs.”

The incident began to unfold on Thursday, when WYDOT discovered deep cracks, some as wide as 8 inches, riddling the section of highway just south of Yellowstone National Park. That and a dip in the road caused a motorcycle crash and state officials closed the road.

Early damage to the highway. (WYDOT)

WYDOT

Early damage to the highway. (WYDOT)

They then set about making repairs to that and a couple of other landslide-damaged sections of the road, Wyoming State Highway 22. The geologists and engineers went to inspect and saw that the “crack and that drop started to move a lot,” said Stephanie Harsha, a spokesperson for WYDOT District 3. A crew patched the road, and traffic resumed.

A landslide elsewhere early Friday closed down the road again. By around 5:30 a.m. Saturday, the entire section of highway had plunged into the valley, rendering it impassable even as workers scrambled to stabilize it.

“We were very, very lucky that no crews were harmed. No equipment was damaged,” Harsha said.

Wyoming Highway Patrol via AP

This photo provided by Wyoming Highway Patrol shows a damaged section of Teton Pass near Jackson, Wyo., on Saturday. (Wyoming Highway Patrol via AP)

Gov. Mark Gordon declared a state of emergency to allocate additional resources from the Federal Highway Administration. The Idaho Transportation Department was also assisting in cleanup efforts.

“I recognize the significant impacts this closure has to Teton County residents, regional commuters and the local economy,” he said in a statement, noting there is no timeline for repairs to be complete.

“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,” WYDOT said 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.”

With News Wire Services

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