US-95 at slide south of Riggins to remain closed

Rock scalers dislodge loose material on the slope above US-95 at milepost 188

July 10 UPDATE

Massive boulders came down last night at the U.S. Highway 95 slide south of Riggins (milepost 188). The slope above the route remains too unstable to allow for traffic or rock removal crews in the area.

“The highway will remain closed until we are able to evaluate this new development and determine the best option to safely stabilize the slope.” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said.

The department had already built a temporary gravel road to detour traffic around the base of the slide, but continued significant movement on the slope closed it on July 8.

“The extensive rock fall that occurred last night confirmed that we had made the right decision to completely close that portion of US-95 to traffic,” Hopkins said.

Early next week, crews will again begin scaling the slope and surveying the area.

“Currently there are a lot of overhanging boulders and ledges,” stated Hopkins. “We don’t yet know how stable these are and until we are able to further evaluate the area, crews will not be able to engage in rock removal operations.”

Old Pollock Road will continue to serve as a detour around the slide during daytime hours – 6 am – 8 pm PDT (7 am – 9 pm MDT). The detour will remain closed at night in order for crews to perform maintenance operations on the roadway, which typically does not see this amount of traffic.

“It’s very important that we maintain the integrity of Old Pollock Road so that it can continue to serve as a viable option for detouring traffic during this time,” Hopkins said.

The slope and area around the slide is considered extremely hazardous. ITD is asking citizens to stay away from the area for their safety. The department is also asking drivers choosing to use the detour, to ensure that they drive attentively in order to keep traffic flowing.

“The proven unpredictability of this slide requires that we remain flexible,” Hopkins said. “While our goal is to safely reopen the highway as soon as possible, we are very thankful that no one has been injured and will focus our efforts to ensure that it remains that way.”

Updates will be provided on the status of the slide as they are made available. At present, there is no estimated time for reopening of the highway.

July 8 evening update

The recently reopened detour around the US-95 closure south of Riggins due to a July 3 rockslide will not open tomorrow following discovery of significant movement on the slope. This closure is anticipated to last at least two days.

“Between Monday and today, one of our survey targets moved nearly two inches,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “That kind of activity may not sound like much, but in terms of geological movement it is alarming.”

The continued closure at US-95 will allow geotechnical experts to perform intensive scaling activities to dislodge the rock and reassess site conditions.

During the closure, Old Pollock Road will serve as a detour for both passenger and commercial traffic.

“This is a one-lane gravel road that is nearly four miles long,” Hopkins said. “Even with this open, getting through the area could take up to three hours.”

Repairs to Old Pollock Road were completed earlier tonight. Flaggers will be on scene tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. PDT / 7 a.m. MDT to direct alternating traffic.

“Slides are unpredictable, and this one keeps proving that,” Hopkins said. “For the safety of drivers and our workers, we have to close it. Until this problem is solved, we recommend that drivers check 511 every time they travel on US-95.”

July 8 morning update

Operators weigh down protective containers near the temporary road around the US-95 MP 188 slide
Operators weigh down protective containers near the temporary road around the US-95 MP 188 slide

U.S. Highway 95 will open to one lane of traffic between Pollock and Riggins this morning by 10 a.m. PDT/ 11 a.m. MDT and stay open until 8 p.m. PDT/ 9 p.m. MDT for the first time since the July 3 rockslide closed it at milepost 188.

Drivers will pass around the slide on a temporary gravel road. They should expect lengthy delays as only a limited number of vehicles will be allowed to pass underneath the slope at one time. Scaling activity above will also require periodic 20-minute closures over the next couple of days.

“We have built a rock berm and placed large container boxes to shield traffic from any unforeseen rockfall,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “A spotter and a surveyor will watch the hillside and be ready to have flaggers close the highway in the unlikely event it becomes unstable.” 

Starting Thursday, ITD plans to open the highway from 6 a.m. PDT /7 a.m. MDT to 8 p.m. PDT/ 9 p.m. MDT each day. Approximately 30 minutes before the highway is closed each night, staff at barricades in Riggins and New Meadows will turn traffic away.

Crews will continue breaking down rocks and pushing them up against the existing berm to make it taller and provide more room for any further debris.

Download a photo of operators filling the container boxes with rocks last week.

Improvements to Old Pollock Road will be completed later today, serving as another one-lane gravel option for local commuters only but not commercial traffic.

“For the time being, motorists should plan for congestion and expect the highway to be closed at night when we can’t monitor the slope,” Hopkins said. “We expect to keep flagging and monitoring for several weeks until we identify a long-term solution.”

Another update will be released when the long-term solution is identified next week.

July 7 update

Rock scalers dislodge loose material on the milepost 188 slide
Rock scalers dislodge loose material on the milepost 188 slide

The Idaho Transportation Department plans to open US-95 to traffic between Pollock and Riggins tomorrow, Wednesday (July 8) following the evaluation of geotechnical experts yesterday and positive results from continued monitoring. The highway will only open during the day to allow observation of the slope.

“Yesterday geotechnical professionals measured the slope to identify short-term options to get the highway safely open,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “Today rock scalers will keep dislodging any loose material.”

Crews have closed Old Pollock Road to add gravel and install culverts to help the county repair it for local and commuter traffic. Work is expected to take up to two days.

Recent rain could affect the stability of the slope. More details will be released tomorrow morning.

July 6 evening update

A temporary road is ready around the slide on US-95 at milepost 188.
A temporary road is ready around the slide on US-95 at milepost 188.
Old Pollock Road will be closed from 7 a.m. tomorrow until Wednesday evening as improvements are made for a future non-commercial detour around the slide. 

July 6 morning update

Results from geotechnical surveys on the slide south of Riggins showed significantly less movement on the slope yesterday (July 5), but the highway will remain closed today (July 6) to allow for more monitoring.

Outside experts are examining the slope today to identify short-term and long-term options to stabilize the area. They are also dislodging any loose material.

“By tomorrow morning, we will have more data to compare to the baseline conditions of the slope,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said.

Crews have finished constructing the temporary road around the slide at milepost 188 and have placed barriers to protect future traffic from rockfall.

“When survey results and on-slope evaluations prove that the slide is stable, we will look to open the highway for short periods of time,” Hopkins said. “In the meantime, we are evaluating the condition of Old Pollock Road to see how we may be able to help the county with a locals-only detour.”

The Idaho Transportation Department has submitted feedback to Google Maps to show that Old Pollock Road is currently not open to traffic. There is no detour around the slide.

July 5 update

U.S. Highway 95 will no longer open to traffic between Pollock and Riggins this afternoon to allow for continued monitoring of the slide at milepost 188.

“We know this is contradictory to what we had hoped to accomplish today and will cause long detours for travelers heading home,” ITD District Engineer Doral Hoff said. “However, without enough data and uncertainty about an apparent gap at the top of the hillside, we are concerned it might be active still.”

Yesterday around 4:30 p.m. crews left the site once a crack in the rock face became visible from below. They had been working on a temporary road around the slide as well as building a rock berm and placing container boxes to shield traffic once allowed to pass through.

“The very nature of slides is unpredictable,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “At this time, we’re not sure when we will be able to open the highway, but we are continuing to conduct geotechnical surveys and tomorrow will have experts on the slope to pry off any loose material and further analyze its condition.”

July 4 update

An excavator clears rock from the slide at MP 188 on US-95 near Riggins
An excavator clears rock from the slide at MP 188 on US-95 near Riggins

Depending on geotechnical survey results, US-95 between Pollock and Riggins may temporarily open tomorrow afternoon (Sunday, July 5) to allow traffic to drive around the rock slide that has closed the highway since Friday morning.

“We were fortunate that there was no further activity last night, and if repeated surveys show no more movement, we are prepared to open the highway for a short time,” ITD District Engineer Doral Hoff said. “We have surveyors on site right now to periodically gauge the stability of the slope.”

Around 9 a.m. Friday, the slope above milepost 188 crashed onto the highway, leaving a debris field approximately 120 feet long and 40 feet deep at the base. Some rocks measure 25 feet across and just as tall. Continued rockfall throughout the day kept maintenance crews from cleaning up the slide.

Equipment and operators from across the region have been called to the area. Crews are actively working to build a temporary road around the slide with a tall berm and container boxes to protect drivers in the event of more rockfall.

“Even with those protective measures in place, the biggest threat to drivers’ safety will be the stability of the slope above them,” Hoff said. “We cannot open the highway until we know it’s safe, and we won’t know without more surveys taken over time.”

Future conditions for travel are unknown at this time. Drivers should download the 511 app, follow ITD on Facebook and Twitter and pay attention to signs in the area.

Another release will be sent Sunday morning to confirm any opening of the highway.

Traffic shifted from westbound lanes to eastbound lanes through the Salt Lake Interchange project

As early as Tuesday of next week (July 7), traffic will shift on Interstate 84/86 at the Salt Lake Interchange project. Motorists traveling on I-84 toward Pocatello will no longer be crossed over to the westbound lanes; instead drivers traveling westbound on I-86 toward Burley will be crossed over to join them on the same set of lanes.

“Shifting all traffic off the westbound lanes to the eastbound lanes will allow for crews to work on that side of the highway,” ITD Project Manager Travis Hitchcock said. “This new traffic pattern is really a mirror image/reverse of what drivers were doing previously, and we anticipate it will be in place for approximately seven weeks.”

Traffic will remain reduced to a single lane in each direction, and the turn offs toward Salt Lake City will remain the same as before.

This project is scheduled to finish by late 2020.

Drivers should still anticipate reduced speeds through the work zone and pay close attention to signage.

Wadsworth Brothers Construction, of Draper, Utah is the prime contractor on this project.

Construction on US-26/US-93 in Blaine County to begin next week

Image of US-26/US-93 near Carey

Rehabilitation of US-26/US-93 is expected to begin next Monday (July 6), south of Carey. Work will encompass approximately seven miles of highway (milepost 196 to 203) and provide a safer and smoother ride for motorists.

US-26/US-93 between Shoshone and Carey has seen several rehabilitation projects in recent years. This is one of three remaining projects that are programmed to address the area.

“We anticipate construction to last through August,” said ITD Project Inspector Chuck Sharp. “Working during the warm summer months will allow us to complete rehabilitation and also sealcoat the highway to help preserve the road during the upcoming winter season.”

While construction is underway, traffic on this section of highway will be reduced to a single lane. A pilot car will be utilized during working hours – Monday through Thursday from 7 am to 6 pm.

Motorists should anticipate reduced speeds and watch for workers and heavy equipment throughout the work zone.

The general contractor is Western Construction of Boise.

Change in traffic on US-93 in Jerome County starting this week

Crews and heavy equipment work along US-93 in Jerome County.

Traffic flow is expected to change as early as Friday, June 19 on US-93 between 200 S Road and 300 S Road in Jerome County. This is part of the ongoing US-93 widening project, which will see the highway transition from two lanes to four to increase mobility and traffic flow in the area.

“We will be placing temporary traffic signals at both ends of the project later this week,” said ITD South-central Idaho Project Manager Sam Purser. “While these signals are in place, crews will tie the newly constructed northbound lanes into the existing highway.”

Temporary signals will be utilized for approximately three to four weeks.

“We are not anticipating any additional intersection closures at this time,” stated Purser. “If we find closures are necessary for safety of the traveling public, we will implement them accordingly.”

Motorists can anticipate minor delays and are encouraged to plan ahead if commuting through the area. In addition to the signals, construction signage, candlesticks, and barrels will also be in place to safely direct those traveling through the work zone.

Drivers are advised to use caution and watch for workers and heavy equipment entering and exiting the highway.

“This project will improve safety at the US-93/200 South intersection for both passenger and commercial vehicles,” explained Purser. “The end result will be a divided highway similar to what drivers encounter two miles south of this area.”

Idaho Materials and Construction is the prime contractor for this project.

For more information visit https://itdprojects.org/projects/us-93-200-south-road

Detour planned this Sunday for US-30 widening project in Cassia Count

Image of highway construction on US-30 in Burley.

Next week there will be a short duration detour for the US-30, N 400 West to Parke Avenue construction project in Burley. This detour will be in place from Sunday (June 14) at 7 am to Monday (June 15) at 7 am.  During this time, access to Bedke Boulevard from US-30 will be closed to through traffic. Motorists will need to use Idaho Highway 27 while crews place new storm sewer lines in the area.

Food truck services to be discontinued at Idaho rest areas

Customers line up six feet apart at a food truck stationed on I-84 at Blacks Creek

June 12

Since Governor Little lifted restrictions on restaurants as part of his economic recovery plan, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) will discontinue the temporary permits for food trucks at Idaho rest areas, with the last day for food trucks set as June 12.

Food trucks have been stationed at rest areas since mid-April to offer hot meal services to essential travelers.

“More than 30 permits have been granted since we developed this provisional program,” said Nestor Fernandez, ITD’s Mobility Services Engineer. “Now that hot meals on the road will be easier to find, those permits will expire so that ITD may be in compliance with federal rules.”

In early April the Federal Highway Administration announced it would momentarily relax enforcement of rules that prohibit commercial activity on state-owned, federally-supported right of way like rest areas.

April 16

An emergency exemption by the Idaho Transportation Department will allow permitted food trucks to set up at rest areas and offer hot meals to truck drivers and other travelers.

“We heard truck drivers were having difficulties finding hot meals with the restrictions placed on nonessential businesses during the stay-at-home order,” said Nestor Fernandez, ITD’s Mobility Services Engineer. “Our goal is to support them as best as we can during this pandemic, especially long-haul drivers delivering goods across the U.S.”

ITD worked with the Idaho Trucking Association to identify opportune times for vendors to stage at rest areas as well as the Southern Idaho Food Truck Association to solicit appropriate vendors.

Food trucks will be permitted at rest areas around the state, with up to two vendors allowed at each site. They will not be permitted at rest areas that already offer these services and are under public-private management. Learn more about the temporary program.

“These temporary services are targeted at truck drivers and other essential travelers,” Fernandez said. “We don’t want to attract crowds and will advise permitted vendors to follow healthcare guidelines.”

Earlier this month, the Federal Highway Administration announced it would temporarily relax enforcement of rules that prohibit commercial activity on state-owned, federally-supported right of way like rest areas.

Once the stay-at-home order is lifted in Idaho and restrictions on nonessential businesses are eased, food trucks will no longer be permitted at rest areas.

Two-week online discussion opens June 4 for Idaho 75 project in Ketchum

Image of ID-75 in relation to the Elkhorn Road to River Street project

The Idaho Transportation Department invites community members to give input on improvements to Idaho 75 in Ketchum via an online discussion at itdprojects.org/idaho-75-elkhorn-road. The online discussion will be open from June 4 to June 18.

“During this time of social-distancing restrictions, we recognize that community involvement is still essential to the success of this project,” said ITD Project Manager Nathan Jerke. “We encourage all community members to join us for the online discussion.”

The online discussion will include a short presentation introducing the project and its background. There will also be an opportunity for individuals to provide input and see comments from other community members.

Growth and development in recent years have resulted in increased congestion on Idaho 75. This project will result in design plans for widening the highway between Elkhorn Road and River Street, rebuilding the Trail Creek Bridge and improving drainage and other infrastructure.

Comments may be submitted via the website, calling (208) 886-7809, emailing SH75ElkhornRoadToRiverSt@itd.idaho.gov or sending mail to the Idaho Transportation Department, 216 S Date St., Shoshone, ID 83352 at the attention of Nathan Jerke.

Those who do not have the ability to engage online should use the contact information above, and a member of the project team will provide other resources to participate.

Turn lane construction at Idaho Highway 27 intersection in Cassia County to begin next week

Satellite image of ID-27 intersection

Construction is expected to begin south of Burley on Monday (June 8) at the intersection of Idaho Highway 27, West 600 South and South Pole Line Road.

“This safety improvement will widen the roadway and provide designated left turn lanes for motorists traveling on the highway,” said ITD Project Manager Brock Dillé. “It will also increase mobility in the area with through traffic no longer needing to slow down for vehicles making turns onto the adjacent roadways.”

During construction, traffic will be reduced to a single lane and guided by flaggers or temporary signals. Work is expected to continue until mid-July.

Motorists should anticipate minor delays and may encounter some access closures to county roads. Drivers are encouraged to consider another route while work on this project is underway.

The general contractor is Idaho Materials and Construction.

Turn lane construction on US-93 in Twin Falls County to begin next week

US-93 near Idaho Highway 74

Construction is expected to begin Monday (June 8) on US-93 near Idaho Highway 74 at milepost 38.

“In the next few weeks, we will add a longer turn lane for motorists traveling northbound toward Twin Falls,” said ITD Project Manager Brock Dillé. “This will improve safety in the area by providing a designated lane for motorists to decelerate when turning off US-93.”

While construction is underway, traffic will be reduced to a single lane during working hours which are scheduled from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday throughout the month of June.

Drivers should anticipate minor delays and watch for flaggers.

The general contractor is Idaho Materials and Construction.

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Road repairs to begin this week near Ketchum to fix winter damage

Map of ID-75 road work in Blaine County

The Idaho Transportation Department will begin repairs this week on Idaho Highway 75 in Blaine County to address areas damaged during the winter months. Work will occur on various stretches of roadway between milepost 118 and 132 on both north and southbound lanes.

Weather permitting, crews are anticipated to complete work by the end of July.

“We are working to fix areas of the highway which saw substantial damage over the lengthy winter months,” said ITD area foreman Brad Lynch. “The work we are doing will smooth out the roadway and improve the driving experience for motorists throughout the Wood River Valley.”

Some areas will require a detour while work is being performed. Access to Serenade Lane from ID-75 will be closed for approximately two days during this timeframe.

Motorists are advised to exercise caution, watch for flaggers and follow signs which will be in place to safely direct drivers through the area.

Repairs are expected to take place Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Work will not be performed over the Fourth of July weekend.