ITD finishes first phase of Highway 95 blasting

Posted at 10:47 AM, Aug 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-29 20:27:26-04

The Idaho Transportation Department finished the first of two planned blasting projects near highway 95, where a massive landslide came crashing down earlier this summer.

According to ITD, the first blast was successful and went as planned. Now crews will work to clear the debris off the highway.

The blast marked the first step in ITD's long term solution to make highway 95 safer. Meanwhile ITD shifts traffic back to Old Pollock Road, which has been the main detour for most of the summer.
Drivers can expect a single lane of traffic guided by a pilot car for the next week.

Crews will begin drilling at the US-95 rockslide south of Riggins as part of the long-term repairs Thursday. The repairs involve controlled blasting and reinforcing the rock face, which is planned to be finished in late October.

The slide happened on July 3 and then again on July 10, affecting traffic on the highway since. Drilling is the first step to safely remove material from the slope. Crews will be rebuilding the rock berm to catch debris during blasting and to shield traffic from any unexpected rock fall.

“Once those two steps are completed, then we can proceed to blasting,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “Drivers won’t be affected until we blast, which is not scheduled until early September.”

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) said in a news release around 14,000 cubic yards will be removed by dynamite in one blast. During the blast, there will be no access on the detour around the base of the slide or on Old Pollock Road. A date for the blast has not been set yet.

After blasting, crews will clear the detour around the base of the slide. Before using steel bolts to secure the remaining rock in place, geotechnical experts will dislodge any loose material. Wire fencing will cover the surfaces between bolts and drains will be installed.

Once the rock face work is finished, the berm will be dismantled and contractors will repair the highway and remove the detour around the base of the slide.

“Over the next two months, drivers should expect intermittent closures on US-95 or Old Pollock Road,” Hopkins said. “We will alternate between the two routes to accommodate traffic, with a complete closure of both only planned for the day we blast.”

The repairs are expected to cost $3 million and Scarsella Brothers, Inc., based out of Seattle, will be finishing the work.