The Teton Pass Landslide: How it Happened and What’s Next

June 11, 2024
Accident was only a matter of time, according to engineer

Over the weekend, a landslide cut off an essential route at Teton Pass in Wyoming for motorists who use Wyoming State Highway 22. Experts found the road was sliding down the mountain 1 inch every hour. By Friday, the movement increased to 6 inches per hour, and eventually the road collapsed in a landslide. 

Climate and forest fires have caused more precipitation pattern changes in the past five to 15 years, causing an increase in landslides, according to Claudio Berti, the director of the Idaho Geological Survey. 

According to Bob Hammond, resident engineer at the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT), the acceleration of the slide was caused by groundwater oversaturating the soil. He doesn’t think it could have been prevented. 

“We have lots of landslides we work on all the time,” Hammond said to the Idaho Statesman. “This wasn’t a major concern at all. It hadn’t really shown any strong instability, but things changed, and they changed quickly.” 

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) said crews have been assisting crews from WYDOT to clear debris. 

Yesterday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg issued a statement about the landslide, saying, “Our DOT team is working with WY officials to assist with emergency repairs. In the meantime, plan ahead if your route takes you over Teton Pass.” 

Officials are still deciding when the road can reopen.

According to WYDOT, officials are evaluating and putting together a long-term plan for the rebuilding of the road. 

A temporary road will be built at the landslide site for those who need to use that route.


Source: Unofficial Networks, KCWY, Idaho Statesman 

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