Idaho DMV issues extension on expiring registrations and driver’s licenses

The Idaho Transportation Department’s Division of Motor Vehicles is providing an extension on expiring vehicle registrations and driver’s licenses. In an effort to reduce wait times at county DMV offices, non-commercial vehicle registrations and driver’s licenses that expire between September and December 2020, now have until January 31, 2021 to renew.

In mid-October ITD implemented the fourth and largest phase of the state’s DMV modernization project, moving the vehicle registration and titling system from a 1980s mainframe to an updated computer program. Eight million records were integrated into a “one person, one record” system, linking each Idahoan’s registration and title information with their license.

The new system has temporarily slowed vehicle registration and title processing, and ITD is working diligently to speed up transaction times. COVID-19 social distancing measures with limited hours and appointment times also contribute to a backlog in service. The extensions will allow customers more time to safely complete their business. ITD is doing everything possible to reduce wait times, especially as temperatures drop this fall and winter.

“People with expiring registrations and licenses don’t need to rush to the DMV. These extensions should give them some relief, help reduce crowd sizes, and also open up appointment windows where available at county offices,” said DMV Administrator Alberto Gonzalez. “We also encourage Idahoans to renew their registration online, by mail, or drop boxes at county offices.”

DMV online services, including driver’s license and registration renewal, are available 24/7 at dmv.idaho.gov. Please note, county DMV office hours are determined by county sheriffs and assessors, and vary statewide. Hours and contact information can be found at dmv.idaho.gov.

Idaho DMV update on vehicle registration and titling system

The Idaho Division of Motor Vehicles team is working all hours to refine the state’s new vehicle registration and titling computer system. Customers at county DMV offices are currently experiencing extended wait times. Please remember, many DMV services are available ONLINE at dmv.idaho.gov. We encourage you to skip the line and renew online 24/7.

During the Columbus Day weekend (Oct. 10-12), the Idaho DMV transitioned the state’s vehicle registration and titling system from a 1980s mainframe to the new GEM system. Eight million DMV records were integrated into a “one person, one record” system. This means each Idaho driver will have one record with both their driver’s license and vehicle registration/title information linked.

“We apologize for any longer than normal wait times at your county DMV office,” said DMV Administrator Alberto Gonzalez. “Upgrading from a 40-year-old computer system is a big project, and merging millions of records is a challenging process. The GEM system is not yet perfect, as we continue to clean years of data, but it is improving every day.”

The Idaho DMV asks customers to please have patience with county staff until the system is operating more smoothly. For more information and resources visit dmv.idaho.gov.

Reminder: Drive Insured! Insure your vehicle or lose your registration

Drive Insured! Be safe, be smart! Insure your vehicle or lose your registration.

A reminder to Idaho vehicle owners, drive insured or lose your registration.

Under Idaho law, vehicle owners without insurance coverage for two consecutive months risk having their registration suspended by the Idaho Division of Motor Vehicles.

The Drive Insured law (Idaho Code 49-1234) was passed during the 2019 Idaho legislative session, and went into effect in January 2020. As part of the DMV’s efforts to help Idahoans through the unprecedented COVID-19 emergency, implementation was initially delayed.

The DMV receives data from licensed Idaho insurance companies identifying vehicles with coverage. Owners without coverage for two consecutive months will receive a warning letter, then have 30 days to provide proof of insurance or obtain an exemption before their registration is suspended.

To reinstate a suspended registration, owners will need to provide proof of insurance and pay a fee of $75.

Impacted drivers should expect warning letters in the mail this October, though at any time, the DMV encourages Idahoans to use the Drive Insured self-reporting tool at driveinsured.itd.idaho.gov. This tool allows drivers to verify the DMV has a record of their insurance, report a change in their insurance situation, or file an exemption. While insurance companies are required by law to provide this data, some fail to do so and it may result in a vehicle incorrectly identified as not having insurance. Using the self-reporting tool is a simple step that can give drivers peace of mind if they are concerned the DMV is not up to date on their current situation.

Please note, county DMV offices are not involved with Drive Insured, and affected vehicle owners cannot report their insurance in-person there. Please use the Idaho DMV’s online self-reporting tool, or call 208.334.8075.

Some vehicles are exempt from this statute. The law applies only to non-commercial vehicles, and excludes trailers and off-highway vehicles. For a full list of frequently asked questions, visit dmv.idaho.gov and click the Drive Insured heading.

Transport of oversized windmill loads through North Idaho to begin Thursday night

Picture of a large windmill blade at the Lewiston Port

Update as of 10/16: the first loads are now expected to leave Saturday night.

Approximately 300 oversized loads will travel from the Port of Lewiston to Alberta, Canada over the next two months, with the first load scheduled to leave Thursday night (Oct. 15) at 7 p.m. NexGen Transportation is in the process of delivering the blades and tower sections for 43 windmills, with the largest loads measuring up to 270 feet long and weighing 240,000 pounds.

The loads will depart from the Port of Lewiston every night, except Friday and Saturday nights, to travel north on US-95 to Coeur d’Alene before heading east on I-90 into Montana. Weather conditions may impact the schedule.

Pilot cars will escort the loads on the two-day journey, with flaggers in place to close the following intersections: Idaho Highway 128 and US-12/US-95 (Lewiston), US-95 and Lincoln Avenue/Walnut Way (Coeur d’Alene) and the I-90 and US-95 interchange (Coeur d’Alene).

Drivers can expect delays as the loads move through these intersections. Seven loads are expected each night.

Emergency repairs to Clearwater Memorial Bridge to start tonight

US-12 crosses the Clearwater River.

Update as of 10/16: Work will now take place over the weekend and is anticipated to be complete Sunday night.

Repairs to the Clearwater Memorial Bridge are scheduled to start tonight and run until the end of next week. During this time, joints on the westbound lanes that allow the bridge to expand and contract with the weather will be replaced.

Both directions of traffic will be reduced to one lane each week night from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Drivers will be directed to the eastbound side of the bridge to give crews room to work.

Work is scheduled at night to minimize impacts to commuters. However, the nighttime transport of oversized loads between Lewiston and Canada may cause short delays as they leave the port and head north on US-95 for the next two months.

project in 2023 will rehabilitate the 1951 structure, but the joints will not be able to support traffic until then without significant maintenance costs and must be addressed now.

New traffic pattern in place next week at Salt Lake Interchange project

Image of construction on the Salt Lake Interchange project

As early as Thursday (Oct. 15), traffic will shift on Interstate 84/86 at the Salt Lake Interchange project. Motorists traveling toward Pocatello from Burley on I-84 will be detoured toward Salt Lake. They will take Exit 228 at Yale Road and then enter I-84 westbound and continue on to I-86 toward Pocatello.

“This detour will allow us to complete demolition of the aged eastbound bridge structure.” ITD Project Manager Travis Hitchcock said. “This will be the final demolition phase for this project.”

In addition to the Yale Road detour, westbound traffic progressing from I-86 to I-84 will now continue through the work zone in their designated lane of travel.

“These are new traffic patterns which replace others previously in place throughout this project,” stated Hitchcock. “It’s important that drivers pay close attention to signage and message boards that will be in place to safely direct them through the area.”

Traffic will remain reduced to a single lane in each direction. Drivers should continue to anticipate reduced speeds through the work zone and watch for crews and heavy equipment.

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

Hearing scheduled on 129,000-pound truck route application for Cassia County

Graphic of truck on highway with text reading Comment on proposed 129k route

The Idaho Transportation Department is evaluating an application to allow loads of up to 129,000 lbs. on the Idaho Highway 81 Spur in Cassia County.

A public hearing will be held this month in Burley to provide citizens an opportunity to comment on the route application. The hearing will be an open house format with staff from ITD on hand to answer questions regarding the application or the 129k process.

Thursday, October 22
4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Burley City Hall
1401 Overland Ave, Burley

At the hearing, citizens can give verbal or written testimony on the proposed 129k route:

ID-81 Spur: From the I-84/Yale Road Interchange to ID-81 east of Declo (MP 0.0 – 0.34)

The comment period will remain open until Friday, October 30. Those interested in viewing the application or submitting comment online before or after the hearing can visit: https://itd.idaho.gov/freight.

Citizens who can’t attend, can record verbal comments by calling 855-785-2499. Written comments can also be submitted to ITD Freight Program Manager Scott Luekenga via e-mail to scott.luekenga@itd.idaho.gov, or mail to:

Idaho Transportation Department
ATTN: Scott Luekenga
PO Box 7129
Boise, ID  83707-1129

Individuals may also contact Scott Luekenga directly with questions regarding 129k routes or the approval process by calling 208-334-8057.

The Department is required to conduct an analysis and public hearing on all requests to operate 129,000 lbs. on the state highway system before the Idaho Transportation Board makes a final decision.

Idaho Transportation Department personnel will adhere to best practices during the public hearing and request that individuals who attend follow recommended guidelines relating to COVID-19.

Idaho DMV to update vehicle registration and titling system in October

OCTOBER 21 UPDATE
The Idaho DMV team is working all hours to refine the state’s new vehicle registration and titling computer system. Customers at county offices are currently experiencing extended wait times. Please remember, many DMV services are available ONLINE at dmv.idaho.gov. We encourage you to skip the line and renew online 24/7.

OCTOBER 1
Idaho’s vehicle registration and titling system will operate on a new computer system this month.

It’s the next phase of the Idaho Division of Motor Vehicles’ modernization project, moving from a 1980s mainframe to an updated GEM system. Statewide upgrades are planned over the Columbus Day weekend (Oct. 10-12) to minimize impacts to the public at county DMV offices.

“We anticipate a smooth transition,” DMV Administrator Alberto Gonzalez said. “State and county agents are testing and training now in preparation.”

During the three-day weekend, the Idaho DMV will integrate millions of DMV records into one system, resulting in a “one person, one record” system. Each Idahoan will now have one record with both their driver’s license and vehicle registration/title information on it.

“The one person, one record will reduce transaction times at DMV offices, and help county agents and law enforcement correctly identify Idahoans and vehicle ownership,” Gonzalez said. “It also paves the way to the future, giving us the ability to eventually offer more online services to Idaho drivers.”

The Idaho DMV has provided multiple training opportunities to county DMV offices, both virtually and in-person, and staff in all 44 Idaho counties have experience using the new system. County agents ask for patience and understanding from customers in October, as wait times could be longer while agents become more comfortable processing transactions. Title transactions on Oct. 8-9, prior to the transition, may be delayed several days.

The DMV modernization effort is an ongoing process. The disabled parking placards program was moved to the new system in 2017, and the driver’s license program in 2018. This latest phase transitioning vehicle registration and titling does not depend on a third party vendor.

Some of the DMV’s online services will be temporarily out of service Oct. 7-11 while the transition takes place. Aside from that time, drivers are still encouraged to skip the DMV line, and go online to renew their vehicle registration. For more information and resources visit dmv.idaho.gov or call the DMV Customer Contact Center at 208.334.8000.

Drilling complete at US-95 slide south of Riggins

october 27

Drilling on the face of the slope is now complete. Next crews will start installing mesh at the top of the slope and removing the rock berm on the south side. Impacts to traffic – delays up to 15 minutes – are expected to remain the same until early November.
Remaining work includes installing cable netting on the face of the slope, installing fencing at the bottom of the slope, repairing the surface of US-95 and making minor changes to Old Pollock Road. Work is expected to wrap up in mid-November.

september 23

View footage from the final major blast in long-term repairs.

september 22

Both US-95 and Old Pollock Road are expected to close today at 11 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. MT to allow crews to blast 1,000 cubic yards of unstable rock from the slope adjacent to the active slide at milepost 188 south of Riggins.

The complete closure is expected to last about 30 minutes. After the blast, traffic will be allowed to travel through the area on the US-95 temporary road around the base of the slide or Old Pollock Road.

“Although this particular slope is not currently sliding, it has the potential to,” Materials Engineer Janet Zarate said. “We plan to proactively address it now while we have the right equipment and people in the area.”

This is the second major and final blast to remove material from the slope and will be much smaller than the first.

After blasting is complete, drivers can anticipate continued 20-minute delays for several weeks while geotechnical experts finish dislodging loose material.

“During those short-duration closures, the temporary signals will turn red,” Zarate said. “It’s important to stop so you’re not driving below boulders as they are being pushed off the rock face.”

Next steps for slope stabilization include reinforcing the remaining slope with bolts and wire fencing. Repairs are expected to take until mid-November to complete.

september 10

Photo of the slope above MP 188 on US-95 after blast
Photo of the slope above MP 188 on US-95 after blast

A small blast is planned for 15 minutes between 3 – 4 p.m. PT / 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. MT to remove additional leftover rock from the first blast. Both Old Pollock Road and the detour around the base of the slide will be closed.

Drivers should expect continued follow-up blasts as geotechnical experts scale and reassess the slope.

september 8

Photo of scalers on the US-95 slope south of Riggins
Photo of scalers on the US-95 slope south of Riggins

A blast at 3 p.m. PT / 4 p.m. MT today at the slide near Riggins will close Old Pollock Road and the detour around the base for 15 minutes. Check 511 for updates. These rocks made it past the first blast and days of scaling (see video), but we’ll get it taken care of today.

SEPTEMBER 2

Photo of the slope at MP 188 on US-95 after the Aug. 28 blast
DCIM100MEDIADJI_0017.JPG

Traffic at the US-95 slide south of Riggins is planned to shift from the detour on Old Pollock Road to the temporary road around the base of the slide tonight, thanks to quick progress on cleanup efforts since the blast last week. The route could reopen as early as 5 p.m. PT / 6 p.m. MT, but drivers should check 511.idaho.gov for updates as the deadline approaches.

“We’re able to open this up much sooner than anticipated,” said Janet Zarate, co-manager of the repairs and materials engineer for the Idaho Transportation Department. “Both our contractors and our own employees have worked long hours over the last several days, putting us ahead of schedule.”

In addition to clearing the roadway, crews finished rebuilding protective berms to shield traffic from any additional rock fall.

Traffic conditions will be similar as before the blast, but drivers should plan for additional 30-minute delays as scalers on the slope dislodge loose material. Scaling will continue throughout the week but minimal traffic impacts are anticipated over the holiday weekend.

“In just a few short months, we will have built something that will protect drivers below for decades,” Zarate said. “The inconvenience of delays in the coming days will help keep travelers safe and prevent long-term delays in the future.”

Last Friday, both US-95 and Old Pollock Road were closed for half an hour while crews detonated 6,000 pounds of explosives, removing 14,000 cubic yards of unstable material from the slope.

A second blast in the coming weeks will address stability concerns for the adjacent slope to the south.

For progress updates, drivers should visit itd.idaho.gov/us95rigginsslide and follow ITD on Facebook and Twitter.

August 28 evening update

Still of the blast on US-95 MP 188 south of Riggins
Still of the blast on US-95 MP 188 south of Riggins
Blasting to remove unstable material from the US-95 slide south of Riggins earlier this evening was successful. An estimated 14,000 cubic yards of unstable rock from the slope at milepost 188 were removed, which is the same amount of rock that has already fallen to the road since the first slide on July 3.
Traffic can now run on Old Pollock Road. Cleanup efforts on the detour around the base of the slide are expected to take up to one week, after which traffic will be shifted back on to US-95.

august 28 afternoon update

The one-hour closure is now expected to start at 4:30 p.m. PT / 5:30 p.m. MT at the earliest. For the most up-to-date information, check 511 as conditions may change.

AUGUST 28 morning update

Both US-95 and Old Pollock Road are expected to close tonight from 3 to 4 p.m. PT / 4 to 5 p.m. MT to allow crews to blast an estimated 14,000 cubic yards of unstable rock from the slope at milepost 188. Just as much rock has already fallen to the road since the first slide on July 3.

After the blast, traffic will remain on Old Pollock Road until the slope is determined to be stable and crews can clear the detour around the base of the slide. Cleanup efforts are expected to take up to one week.

This is the first of two blasts planned to correct the slope failure. The second blast has not yet been scheduled.

After blasting, long-term repairs will include reinforcing the remaining slope with bolts and wire fencing.

August 25 update

Photo of drilling equipment preparing the slope above milepost 188 on US-95 for blasting

Both US-95 and Old Pollock Road are expected to close Friday evening (Aug. 28) to allow crews to blast an estimated 14,000 cubic yards of unstable rock from the slope, the same amount that has fallen to the road since the first slide at milepost 188 on July 3.

Traffic will be shifted onto Old Pollock Road Thursday night in anticipation of the blast. The complete closure on Friday is expected to last just one hour, and after the blast, traffic will be allowed to travel through the area on Old Pollock Road.

“Our priority is to ensure that the residual rock is stable after the blast and to clear the temporary road around the base of the slide,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “That could take up to a week, during which we will need to keep traffic on Old Pollock Road.”

This blast is the first of two planned to remove material from the slope. An update will be sent later this week with the timing of the blast on Friday evening. The second blast has not yet been scheduled.

Long-term repairs also include reinforcing the remaining slope with bolts and wire fencing. They are expected to take until late October to complete.

Drivers should download the 511 app to check for the latest conditions. For progress updates, drivers should visit itd.idaho.gov/us95rigginsslide and follow ITD on Facebook and Twitter.

August 20 update

A semi passes the temporary signal at the US-95 slide south of Riggins
A semi passes the temporary signal at the US-95 slide south of Riggins

Drilling will begin today at the US-95 slide south of Riggins. This is part of the long-term repairs, which will involve controlled blasting and reinforcing the rock face, that are planned for completion in late October. The unstable slope has affected traffic on the highway since it first slid on July 3 and then again on July 10.

Drilling is the first step in the process of safely removing material from the slope. At the same time, crews will rebuild the rock berm to catch debris during blasting and shield traffic from 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.”

An estimated 14,000 cubic yards will be removed by dynamite in one blast, during which there will be no access through the area on the detour around the base of the slide or on Old Pollock Road. More information will be released when a final date is set.  

After blasting, crews will clear the detour around the base of the slide. Geotechnical experts will finish dislodging any loose material before using steel bolts to secure the remaining rock in place. Wire fencing will be positioned to cover the surfaces between bolts, and drains will also be installed.

“Reinforcing the slope with bolts and fencing will be the most time-consuming task but will not impact traffic,” Hopkins said.

Once work on the rock face is complete, contractors will dismantle the berm, repair US-95 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.”

Repairs are expected to cost $3 million and will be completed by Scarsella Brothers, Inc. out of Seattle.

August 4 update

Traffic runs on a temporary road around the debris field on US-95
Traffic runs on a temporary road around the debris field on US-95

Starting tonight, the Idaho Transportation Department will open US-95 at the slide area south of Riggins for nighttime travel. Moving forward, the temporary road around the base of the highway will be open 24/7 unless closures are required for safety concerns or future repairs.

“We have worked with our geotechnical experts to establish a monitoring and lighting system that allows us to continually observe and survey the slope,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “Now that we can do it safely outside of daylight hours, opening up for nighttime travel will better serve our customers who need to make deliveries at night.”

Flaggers will be on site tonight to direct two lanes of traffic through the work area. After tonight, temporary signals will replace the flaggers. The signals will be controlled by a spotter who will observe the slope and coordinate with surveyors on site.

To preserve the route for future use as a detour, Old Pollock Road will continue to be posted for local traffic only.

“This slide has proven to be a complicated issue, and we would like to thank everyone for their patience as we work to resolve it in a safe manner,” Hopkins said.

The temporary road around the base of the slide has been open for daytime travel since July 27.

Plans for long-term repairs are still being designed. They are not expected to be completed this week. Another update will be sent once a contractor has been hired.

july 30 update

ITD toured the site with prospective contractors earlier this week to answer questions prior to putting the design plans for long-term mitigation out to bid.

Based on feedback from the contracting community, additional details are being added to the plans. The contract will likely not be awarded until next week or after.

july 27 update

The temporary gravel road around the base of the slide opened to two lanes today. Flaggers are on site to help traffic in the event that movement is detected on the slope.

At night, flaggers will shift from their current positions closer to the slide to maintain the closure on Old Pollock Road so it may remain viable for future use as a detour.

july 26 update

Tomorrow morning (July 27), the Idaho Transportation Department will open US-95 at milepost 188. Drivers will be able to navigate through the area on a temporary gravel road that was built at the base of the slide.

This temporary roadway was previously used for a short period of time before additional movement of the slope was discovered, which ultimately resulted in further rockfall on the highway.

“Our focus has always been centered on reopening the highway as soon as possible,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “The nature of this situation however, requires us to remain diligent and only make decisions when we can ensure the safety of both motorists and our workers.”

Last week, crews worked to blast and remove massive boulders that had fallen on the temporary roadway. Additional maintenance operations occurred over the weekend in order for traffic to begin utilizing the road Monday morning.

The temporary road will be open to one lane traffic during daytime hours only (5 a.m. to 8 p.m. PDT / 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. MDT). Drivers must adhere to flaggers and pilot cars that will be present to direct them through the area.

“We have been monitoring the slope since the initial slide occurred on July 3, and we will continue monitoring the slope while traffic is moving around the base of the slide,” stated Hopkins. “Safe monitoring can only occur during daylight so the hours of travel will be reduced to coincide with such.”

Over the coming weeks, ITD will continue to remove rocks from US-95 and mitigate the stability of the slope.

“We appreciate how cooperative and patient the public has been throughout this process,” Hopkins said. “Our crews have been, and will continue, to work as quickly as possible to safely restore the highway and driving conditions back to normal.”

july 24 update

Workers walk through the shoofly on US-95 at milepost 188 after the biggest boulders were blasted
Workers walk through the shoofly on US-95 at milepost 188 after the biggest boulders were blasted

Over the last week crews were able to drill and blast some of the biggest boulders that have kept the temporary road around the base of the slide on US-95 south of Riggins closed since July 10. With these boulders now much smaller, the route may reopen as early as Monday, July 27.

“Now that the boulders are of manageable size, we will focus on clearing the detour around the base of the slide while continuing to monitor the stability of the slope,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “We are still determining what the highway will look like when it reopens, but drivers should be prepared for flaggers and reduced lanes and hours.”

The final repairs to mitigate the slope failure are scheduled to be awarded on July 30. Once awarded, the contractor will be asked to mobilize within 48 hours.

Old Pollock Road will continue to be monitored and maintained for possible use as a detour in the future.

july 17 update

Photo from the top of the failing slope on US-95 at milepost 188 looking at massive boulders
Photo from the top of the failing slope on US-95 at milepost 188 looking at massive boulders

On Monday crews are expected to start removing rocks at the base of the slide on US-95 south of Riggins. The temporary road built around the base has been blocked by massive boulders since the slope failed for a second time last week but may be open in time for next weekend.

“Our entire timeline is dependent on survey results,” Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. “If we observe movement, that will limit our ability to have crews working underneath the slope and delay the eventual reopening of the temporary road.”

No significant movement has been detected since late last week, allowing scalers to finish dislodging loose material on the rock face this week.

Removing debris and rebuilding the rock berm to shield the temporary road is planned to take at least all week.

“Some of these boulders are 40 feet wide,” Hopkins said. “We’ll need to drill and blast them into small enough pieces to be removed.”

In the meantime, drivers will continue to be detoured to Old Pollock Road, which is open from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. PDT / 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. MDT.

To ensure the long-term stability of the slope, ITD has hired WHPacific to design a mitigation plan that will include controlled blasting. Those plans are scheduled to be advertised in a few weeks to allow for construction in late summer. At this time the duration and costs of removal of the rock face are unknown.

july 14 afternoon update

The US-95 slide detour route on Old Pollock Road will open an hour earlier starting tomorrow morning (July 15). Traffic will be allowed on the route from 5 am – 8 pm PDT (6 am – 9 pm MDT). This change in time is to better accommodate local traffic.

All motorists utilizing the route must still adhere to flaggers and pilot cars that are there to safely and efficiently direct traffic through the area.

July 14 morning UPDATE

The Idaho Transportation Department will continue to monitor the US-95 slide south of Riggins (milepost 188) to determine if the area is sufficiently stable for crews to begin working on rock removal.

“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.”

A scaling crew was onsite yesterday to evaluate damage resulting from the recent rock fall and assess how the area can be best secured so that crews can begin removing fallen rock off the highway. Scalers also worked to knock off loose rocks and boulders on the slope.

Scaling activities, along with continued monitoring, are expected to carry on throughout the remainder of this 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.”

Some of the fallen rock is up to 40 feet in diameter. Various methods will be required to break the massive 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.”

US-95 will remain closed until it is determined that the slope is stable and crews are safely able to enter the area and remove fallen rock.

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 as crews perform maintenance operations on the roadway, which typically does not see this amount of traffic.

Hopkins said the goal is to reopen the temporary roadway on US-95 as soon as it’s feasible to do so.

“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.”

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.

Bulldozing Through COVID

Even during these challenging and uncertain times, the world of construction just keeps on pushing forward. While construction continues to ramp up, the number of qualified people in the industry is dwindling — but not for long.

Through partnerships between the Idaho Transportation Department, Baker Technical Institute, Idaho Rural Water Association, and the Federal Highway Administration, 20 men and women will be certified to operate select heavy equipment on Idaho construction projects.

“Students will enter the workforce with certifications in Heavy Equipment Operation, and Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response. They will also receive fork lift training and OSHA-10 certification,” said Jessika Phillips of the Idaho Transportation Department’s Office of Civil Rights.

The class started on September 14 and runs through October 16. At the conclusion of the course, a “Field Day” will be held to showcase the skills these students have learned to potential employers, on five different pieces of heavy construction equipment. Media is invited on October 6, and potential employers the following day, October 7.

“This is just another of the many ways the Federal Highway Administration works with its Idaho partners to grow the specialized talent we need to keep America’s roads and bridges safe. The most important investment we can make in our nation’s highway system is in the people entrusted to protect it,” said Michael Caliendo with the Federal Highway Administration.

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WHAT: Heavy Equipment Operator Combine
WHEN: Media – October 6, 2020 @10 a.m.
Employers – October 7, 2020 @ 10 a.m.
WHERE: I-84 Exit 64. One mile north on Black Creek Road. Turn left at Premier Aggregate and follow the road to the end.

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Questions should be addressed to ITD’s Jessika Phillips at 208-334-8152 or Jessika.Phillips@itd.idaho.gov and Doug Dalton of Baker Technical Institute (the firm doing the instruction)  at 208-861-2749 or Doug.Dalton@bakersd.org