A detour route has now been established to serve those trapped by the massive slide late last week on a section of Idaho Highway 14, about ten miles west of Elk City.
The detour route, via an old Forest Service road, will initially be used starting Tuesday, Feb. 23, and will be used every Monday, Wednesday and Friday thereafter. Idaho County, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management are collaborating on the detour plans.
“Idaho 14 is the only access into Elk City, Red River, Orogrande, American River, and Dixie during the winter months. The Idaho Transportation Department is working on plans to clear the slide as soon as safety assessments are complete. At this time, the road is closed and no vehicular access is possible along the highway,” said ITD spokesman Reed Hollinshead.
"The Idaho Transportation Department will be working to reopen Idaho 14 as soon as safely possible,” said ITD Lewiston-area District Engineer Dave Kuisti. “The size of the slide, the large volume of unstable material at the top of the slide, and the size of the slide debris will complicate the removal."
Idaho County Sheriff’s Office personnel will escort essential travel across the detour route (known as Newsome Creek Forest Road #1199), a 20-mile bypass through the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest on the east side of the slide.
The detour route will operate on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday this week, with one downriver trip in the morning at 8 a.m. (drivers are to meet at the Elk City Laundromat) and one upriver trip in the afternoon (meeting location to be determined) at 3 p.m. In the following weeks, the schedule will be Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, ITD officials said.
“Traffic will be limited to ensure that the road does not become impassable because of high traffic volumes on the soft road surface, and because of snow standing five feet deep on the road most of the winter. Traffic will be allowed under the direction and management of Idaho County,” Hollinshead stated.
Idaho County will be working with commercial-service providers to look for ways to provide fuel and other necessities.