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ITD leads disaster relief effort

Massive rockslide closes Banks Lowman Road

The transportation department is leading the emergency effort to remove a major rockslide on the Banks Lowman Road, which connects Banks on Idaho 55 and Lowman on Idaho 21.

Up to 60,000 cubic yards of boulders, mud and trees cascaded onto the road from a mountainside Friday evening (Feb. 20), covering the county road and rendering the route impassable. The slide is approximately 260 feet wide and 50 feet high, including boulders the size of small cars.

Lt. Gov. Jim Risch declared the Banks Lowman Road a state disaster area Monday, clearing the way for use of state emergency funds to remove the debris and reopen the road.

“We began the project as quickly as we could,” said D-3 Maintenance Manager Dick Powell. “Our contractor scaled the top of the rock slide early in the week to remove large boulders that posed safety hazards. But the mountainside appeared too unstable, so explosives were used to bring down the largest rocks.”

Crews have begun the three- to four-week process of clearing the highway. They also are taking every precaution possible to protect the environmentally sensitive area above the South Fork of the Payette River, a popular recreation area.

Barricades have been placed just east of Scott Mountain Road (milepost 23), a popular recreational route for snowmobilers. Access to Scott Mountain Road will remain open during the project, and the Danskin Station restaurant will remain accessible.

Western Construction of Boise is the contractor for the emergency project, which is estimated to cost $400,000.

More slide photos