Raining rocks create challenges on Idaho highways
From The Star-News
Idaho Transportation Department crews worked on Monday to remove loose rocks from a hillside three miles north of Bank.
"It got to the point where it was too unsafe to have traffic on the road and that is why it was closed," Davis said.
Those wanting to go from McCall to Boise had to travel through Council using U.S. 95 which increased the trip by about 50 miles and 40 minutes, according to MapQuest.com.
Davis was called to the slide about 2 a.m. Sunday and found several 1,000- to 1,500-pound boulders in the road along with other debris.
Crews kept the road clear until about 10 a.m. when more debris began falling, he said. On Monday, 1,300 tons of rocks and dirt were removed from the shoulder of the road.
Another 700 to 800 tons slid onto the shoulder Monday night, but did not slide onto the highway and was able to be removed on Tuesday with one lane of traffic open, Davis said.
A loader and track hoe was used to load the material into dump trucks that hauled it to a site about one mile south of the slide, Davis said.
"The goal was to create an even slope and enough space between the highway and the mountainside for debris to gather when the mountain slides again," Davis said.
A rock scaling crew also worked next to the slide and knocked loose rocks from the slope to help prevent another slide, Davis said.
"The amount of moisture in the ground created the perfect storm for the slide to happen," Davis said.
The weather on Saturday was 70 degrees and sunny, which thawed the ground and saturated the clay layers underneath to caused the slide, he said.
From ITD reports
Photos: Idaho 55 was reduced to a single lane (top) this week after a Sunday rockslide that resulted in a 30-hour closure. Crews from Western Construction helped clear debris from the highway (above, right). Pictured lower right is a rock scaler from the contractor's crew adjacent to the slide area.