The Collapse of Teton Pass Has Caused a Major Trucking Route Closure

A significant landslide on Friday, June 7, led to the collapse of the Teton Pass. Thankfully, no one was injured, however, the trucking route closure disrupts a key route between eastern Idaho and Jackson, Wyoming.

Collapse of the Teton Pass: Urgent Trucking Route Closure

A significant landslide on Friday, June 7, led to the collapse of Teton Pass, a vital section of Wyoming State Highway 22. The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) has closed the pass, and it remains shut down as of Monday, June 10. This trucking route closure disrupts navigation for truckers and the transportation industry between eastern Idaho and Jackson, Wyoming.

The Incident: A Massive Landslide at the Teton Pass

The landslide at mile marker 15 initially blocked both lanes of traffic. Early Saturday morning, June 8, a section of Teton Pass at mile marker 12.8 collapsed completely. WYDOT has indicated that the closure will be long-term, with no set date for reopening. This trucking route closure affects a major path for trucks transporting goods between Idaho and Wyoming.

Response and Safety Measures

WYDOT crews are working hard to stabilize the area. They plan to realign the road closer to the mountain with a temporary detour. WYDOT Director Darin Westby emphasized safety, asking residents and visitors to avoid the area until it is secure.

Governor Mark Gordon issued an emergency declaration on June 8, highlighting the urgent need to address the deteriorating highway conditions. The order notes the difficulties for citizens in getting necessities, commuting to work, and accessing essential services.

Economic and Logistical Impact of the Teton Pass Collapse

The trucking route closure of Teton Pass has significant implications for the trucking industry. The pass is a key route for trucks moving goods between Idaho and Wyoming. The alternative route between Jackson and Victor, Idaho, is over 60 miles longer, increasing travel time and costs. This detour affects delivery schedules, fuel costs, and driver fatigue.

Efforts to Mitigate the Impact of the Trucking Route Closure

WYDOT geologists and engineers believe they can build a temporary detour using local materials. This detour could be open within a few weeks, providing some relief. However, permanent repairs and a long-term solution are still being evaluated.

Governor Gordon recognized the impact on Teton County residents, commuters, and the local economy. WYDOT is working on a plan to rebuild the roadway.

Challenges for Truckers

Truckers face several challenges due to the Teton Pass trucking route closure:

  • Longer Travel Distances: The detour adds over 60 miles, increasing travel time and fuel consumption.
  • Delivery Delays: The extended route can lead to delays in deliveries.
  • Driver Fatigue: Longer travel times can cause driver fatigue, raising safety concerns.
  • Increased Costs: Higher fuel costs and potential overtime pay for drivers strain budgets.

Interim Detour Plan and Collaborative Efforts

Following the landslide at milepost 12.8 and the mudslide at milepost 15 on Teton Pass, WYDOT has closed access to Wyoming State Highway 22. To navigate around this closure, commuters are being directed to use US 26 through Swan Valley and into the Snake River Canyon. This extended detour is essential as WYDOT crews evaluate the stability of the area and investigate adjacent areas for potential safety hazards.

WYDOT is working closely with other agencies and partners to secure the area and explore potential interim access options. Geologists and engineers are confident they can construct a safe, temporary detour around the slide area using local fill material and paving two temporary lanes. They hope to have this detour open within a few weeks, although it will likely come with strict weight and width restrictions.

“I want to express my gratitude to WYDOT Director Westby and his entire team for their efforts to rapidly develop and implement a plan to get traffic moving over Teton Pass again as quickly as possible,” Governor Mark Gordon said.

In preparation for long-term reconstruction, WYDOT geologists and engineers are evaluating the area and putting together a comprehensive plan. Although there is no current timeline for the permanent repairs, WYDOT is actively surveying the area using planes and conducting geological drilling.

Managing Recreational Access

Despite the road closure, WYDOT is working with the US Forest Service to ensure access to recreational areas outside the affected zones. Agencies are placing signage to guide users to campsites that are not impacted by the landslide at milepost 12.8 and the mudslide at milepost 15. Both Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park remain open to visitors.

Coordinated Efforts for Safety and Reconstruction

Crews are also addressing the mudslide at milepost 15 by installing a box culvert to improve drainage. This work will be carried out simultaneously with the construction of the temporary detour at milepost 12.8, aiming to complete both projects concurrently, depending on the availability of crews and materials.

Governor Gordon’s Executive Order declaring an emergency will facilitate access to additional resources from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for the substantial repairs needed. WYDOT is grateful for the swift support from various government agencies, including the US Forest Service and the Idaho Transportation Department, enabling a rapid response and efficient planning.

“WYDOT’s response through this crisis demonstrates the commitment, passion, and ingenuity of our crews,” said WYDOT Director Darin Westby. “We certainly want to thank the Governor, the Federal Highway Administration, the Idaho Transportation Department, the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security, Evans Construction, and the US Forest Service for their quick response, teamwork, and dependability in our time of need.”

As crews continue to manage the challenges posed by the landslide and mudslide, truckers and the broader community can stay informed through updates from WYDOT and other state officials. Adaptability and patience remain key as work progresses to restore this critical trucking route.

Looking Ahead

The landslide and collapse of Teton Pass highlight the need for contingency plans for route disruptions. WYDOT is working on both temporary and long-term solutions, but truckers and logistics companies must adapt to the current challenges to keep goods moving.

As the situation evolves, additional updates from WYDOT and state officials will be crucial for planning and mitigating the impact on the trucking industry. Patience and adaptability are essential as the community navigates this significant disruption.

Information Source and Photo Credit: WYDOT Teton County


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