Crews speed up work to clear Idaho 14 landslide

Posted at 12:52 PM, Mar 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-04 15:14:22-05

As crews continue to dig out from the massive landslide that closed a portion of Idaho 14 west of Elk City in north Idaho, the Idaho Transportation Department is announcing a plan to hire a contractor specializing in slide-removal work to speed the cleanup of remaining rock and debris. The emergency contract will allow crews to work seven days per week, weather permitting, to reopen the road.

The contract will be opened by Tuesday, March 8, ITD officials said. The selected contractor will mobilize workers and equipment to the site within 48 hours of the bid opening to begin work.

“ITD expects Idaho 14 to be reopened to traffic in four to five weeks (by early April), weather permitting. The department is pushing to open at least a single lane to intermittent traffic before then, when it is safe to do so,” said ITD spokesman Reed Hollinshead.

“Emergency contract work during daylight hours only would clear a majority of the slide material, starting with rocks and debris above the slide and concluding with removal of material from the highway below,” he added.

ITD says it has so far removed 2,200 cubic yards of material from the slide site. ITD crews have been working non-stop since the slide when conditions have allowed. “An access road to the top of the slide has also been opened up to allow material to be removed. The contract to be opened Tuesday will speed up the process to safely reopen the route,” Hollinshead stated.

If weather allows and the alternate route remains a viable option, the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office will continue to detour area residents around the slide on an old forest service road until Idaho 14 is reopened.

The cleanup effort has been a partnership involving ITD, the U.S. Forest Service, Idaho County, the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office, the county road and bridge department, Avista Corp. and Clearwater Potlatch Timber Protection Association.

“ITD and our contractors are doing everything possible to safely remove debris and restore the highway as quickly as possible,” said ITD north-central District Engineer Dave Kuisti. “Establishing safe access is our priority. We appreciate the continued patience and perseverance of the community.”