Tamarack Resort feeling the impact of the Highway 55 closure

Posted at 4:18 PM, Mar 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-23 09:45:51-04

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) says Highway 55 is still not safe for drivers and will remain closed until at least Tuesday. ITD says the rain we're getting today is not helping and resorts like Tamarack are trying to keep the landslide from bringing their Spring Break business down.

"The possibility of a rock or a boulder being in the roadway is increased this time of year, so slow down and drive attentively," said Jake Melder of ITD.

Sometimes, it's a lot more than a boulder. This massive slide near Smiths Ferry shut down Highway 55 on the way to resorts in McCall and Cascade just before Spring Break.

"If you're looking to come up and experience how Tamarack used to be with the not-so-crowded mountains this would be the week to do it and it's about an hour, roughly forty-five minutes to an hour to go around," said Scott Turlington, President of Tamarack Resort.

Turlington is talking about the trip for those coming from the Treasure Valley. Considering the recent rain and with more possible on Thursday, there are no guarantees the highway will reopen for limited traffic this week.

"Water can seep down into cracks in the rock face, freeze and expand or even the water alone can erode the stuff that's keeping everything together," said Melder. "And that's when we see some of the slipping happening."

Fortunately for Tamarack, the season has already been fairly good.

"We had a really exceptional season in terms of our guests' visits," said Turlington. "Our snow was phenomenal and the experience was excellent for all those who were coming the first time and for all those that are returning to recreate with us."

Melder says a special team of engineers is still trying to get onto the rock face near the slide to see if it is stable. Until they release their report, Highway 55 will remain closed.

ITD recommends drivers use U.S. 95 will still be closed Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as crews resume construction on the Smiths Ferry and Rainbow Bridge project, which will widen roads and add guardrails.