Cascading boulders force 4-hour closure of Idaho 55
Rocks the size of small cars and trucks rained down on Idaho 55, covering the northbound lane and part of the southbound lane April 11 and forcing closure of the highway for major cleanup.
The rock slide near McCall closed Idaho 55 for about four hours. ITD maintenance crews from New Meadows, Council and Boise removed large boulders and debris and patched the highway surface that had been damaged by the falling rock.
Here’s a chronicle of the event:
The northbound lane, closest to the hillside, was covered by fallen rock. New Meadows Foreman Robin Freeman and a half dozen workers from the New Meadows and Council maintenance facilities joined Spelman at the site to clear the southbound lane and maintain one-way traffic.They continued to move boulders, but the hillside deposited more on the highway.
Freeman decided to close the highway at 10:40 a.m. out of safety concerns for ITD workers and travelers. Several larger rocks and a tree still on the hillside appeared to be unstable and had to be lowered to the road by cable. They posed too big a safety risk to leave unattended, Freeman concluded.
Tuesday through Thursday (April 20-22) of this week, crews returned to the scene to break up and remove the rock that had been pushed to the side. They cleared about 100 tons of rock from the initial slide and another 2,000 tons from the hillside as a pre-emptive effort. That represents an estimated 4.2 million pounds of material.