Part of Wyoming highway collapses in landslide, blocking crucial transit route

Part of Teton Pass, a crucial highway through the mountains of western Wyoming, collapsed Saturday morning in a massive landslide that severed the main transit route between two area towns. Officials did not release a timeline for the repair process, but said they expected the road to remain closed in the long term, potentially endangering nearly half of the workforce in and around the tourist centers of Jackson Hole, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park.

The Teton County branch of the Wyoming Department of Transportation announced early Saturday that the road at mile marker 12.8 on Teton Pass had “failed catastrophically” and shared several images on social media showing the extent of the damage. Authorities said crews were trying to build a detour around the initial collapse when the landslide got even worse and effectively destroyed an entire section of the surrounding highway. No one was hurt.

“WYDOT is currently reviewing a long-term solution and repairs, and more information on planning efforts will be available soon,” the department said in its statement. At the time, crews were also working to clear debris from another mudslide at the 15 mile mark on Teton Pass.

Carved into the Teton Mountain Range and stretching approximately 17 miles, Teton Pass is the only direct route between Victor, Idaho, and Jackson, Wyoming. Although it is notoriously dangerous during certain times of the year and is usually closed during these times due to weather-related safety concerns, the highway provides vital access to Teton County, which includes Jackson , Yellowstone and Grand Teton, for workers traveling there from eastern Idaho. .

“We understand that this highway is a lifeline for commuters, deliveries, access to medical care and tourism, especially with limited alternatives and the summer season upon us,” said Darin Westby, director of the Wyoming Department of Transportation, in a statement after the collapse. . “WYDOT engineers, surveyors and geologists quickly mobilized to try to keep the highway viable for as long as possible, but catastrophic failure could not be avoided.”

Westby said the Department of Transportation was on site and “decisively committed to repairing the road and restoring connectivity to the Teton Valley.”

In a January study on the safety of the Teton Pass corridor, the Federal Highway Administration recognized that the highway “provides a critical connection for commuters and recreationists traveling from Victor, Idaho, and Jackson, Wyoming.” . The journey from one end to the other would normally take around 30 minutes by car, or a little longer by public transport. Because of the steep mountain landscape, alternative routes send travelers on a long detour that takes about three times as long and covers about 85 miles.

The Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Office said businesses in the city, as well as Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks, would all remain open in a message shared on its website following the collapse from Teton Pass. The board also acknowledged that closing the highway indefinitely will likely impact workers living in Idaho and traveling to Teton County, who make up about 40 percent of the county’s workforce, according to this message.

“While businesses are doing their best to support their employees and commuters, and working to remain open and maintain normal operating hours and services, the workforce is expected to be affected,” the travel and tourism office said. “As a community, we ask visitors and residents to be patient and understanding if you experience longer than normal wait times or service interruptions. »

Leave a Comment