Going, going, gone in a cloud of dust
1. Two weeks of preparation, a couple hours packing the charge, and stopping all the traffic for as little time as possible.
When there’s only one road for traffic to use for a hundred miles in either direction, blasting at a place like Galena Summit has to go right the first time, every time.
2. Already, the second blast of the day for Dan Lafferty and his crew, the rock cut near the top of Galena Summit goes as planned – covering the roadway but not shooting rocks all over the mountain. The blasts, the first of many taking place in September on both sides of the Idaho mountain pass, will stair-step the former vertical cut away from the roadway and reduce the height of the knob.
3. Fifteen minutes after traffic is stopped, ITD maintenance has one lane open again. Larry Jokinen and Andy Gunderson work to clear the (mostly) basketball-sized rocks. Two rock faces will be blasted back to allow more shoulder area, snow storage and fewer drifting issues. Previously, the two narrow points on the mountain created multiple hazards during the winter, but the modifications should create less of a threat, D-4 Maintenance Engineer Scot Stacey said.
It won’t be too long before the theory is tested – snow already dusting the tops of the surrounding Boulder and Sawtooth mountains. But, like the middle of winter, even as the summer camping season is still going, keeping the road open is the first duty as soon as the rocks hit the ground.
The cycle will continue through September as several more blasts take place and clean-up follows for several days afterward.
See the District 4 newsletter: Interchange