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Highway 95 to remain closed indefinitely after rockslide

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Posted at 10:41 AM, Jul 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-14 12:41:19-04

RIGGINS, Idaho — The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) announced Tuesday morning they will continue to monitor the rockslide at US-95 south of Riggins to see if the area is stable enough for crews to begin rock removal. The rockslide happened on July 3.

“The additional rock fall that occurred last Thursday invalidated the survey points we were monitoring,” ITD Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “We have to once again establish a baseline and carefully monitor the slope over a number of days to ensure that no significant movement is continuing to occur that would cause concern.”

RELATED: Highway 95 near Riggins to remain closed after boulders came down overnight

A scaling crew was at the slide Monday to evaluate damage from the recent rock fall. The crew also assessed how the area can be best secured so crews can begin removing fallen rock off the highway.

Scalers also worked to knock loose rocks and boulders off the slope. Scaling activities and continued monitoring are expected to continue through the week.

“We need to give the slope time to stabilize,” Hopkins explained. “When we are able to safely bring more crews into the area, we will begin rock removal, starting first on the temporary road built at the base of the slide.”

According to ITD, some of the fallen rock is around 40 feet in diameter. The department will be using various methods to break the boulders into pieces and remove them with heavy equipment.

“Blasting in some form will likely occur,” stated Hopkins. “This will be done in a controlled manner and we will continue to carefully monitor the above slope while any work on the ground is underway.”

The highway will stay closed until officials determine the slope is stable and crews are safely able to enter the area and remove fallen rock. Old Pollock Road will serve as a detour around the slide during daytime hours (7 a.m. through 9 p.m.). The detour will be closed at night as crews do maintenance operations on the road, which typically does not see this much traffic.

Hopkins says the goal is to reopen the temporary roadway on highway 95 as soon as it is safe.

“We have to continue to put the safety of our workers and the traveling public first in every decision we make. Our team is working hourly and diligently on this ever changing situation and we appreciate the patience and cooperation of area residence and motorists as we work to restore the highway.”