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Landslide causes portion of Wyoming highway to collapse, blocking vital passenger transport route

Teton Pass, a vital highway through the mountains of western Wyoming, collapsed in a massive landslide Saturday morning, severing the main transportation route between two cities in the region. Officials have not shared a timeline for the repair process, but said they expect the road to remain closed for a long time, potentially putting about half the workforce in and around tourist hubs Jackson Hole, Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks at risk.

The Teton County branch of the Wyoming Department of Transportation announced Saturday morning that the road had “catastrophically failed” at milepost 12.8 on Teton Pass and shared several photos on social media showing the extent of the damage. Crews were trying to create a detour around the initial collapse when the landslide broke further apart and effectively destroyed an entire section of the nearby highway, officials said. No one was injured.

The department said in its announcement, “WYDOT is now reviewing long-term solutions and repairs, and more information about planning efforts will be available soon.” At the time, crews were also working to remove debris from another landslide at the 15th-mile trail on Teton Pass.

The roadway at milepost 12.8 on Teton Pass has failed catastrophically, and is expected to remain closed for a long time. WYDOT…

Posted by WYDOT Teton County on Saturday, June 8, 2024

Built into the Teton Mountain range and spanning approximately 17 miles, Teton Pass is the only direct route between Victor, Idaho, and Jackson, Wyoming. Despite being notoriously dangerous at certain times of the year and usually closed during those times due to weather-related safety concerns, the highway provides vital access to Teton County, which includes Jackson, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton, for workers commuting there from eastern Idaho.

“We understand this highway is a lifeline for travelers, deliveries, access to medical care and tourism, especially with limited options and the summer season,” Wyoming Department of Transportation Director Darin Westby said in a statement after the accident. “WYDOT engineers, surveyors and geologists worked immediately to try to keep the highway viable for as long as possible, but a catastrophic failure could not be avoided.”

Westby said the Department of Transportation is on scene and “working decisively to repair the road and restore connectivity to Teton Valley.”

In a study conducted last January on the safety of the Teton Pass corridor, the Federal Highway Administration acknowledged that the highway “provides a vital connection for travelers and recreationists traveling from Victor, Idaho, and Jackson, Wyoming.” A trip from one end to the other typically takes about 30 minutes or so by car, or a little longer by public transportation. Because of the steep mountain landscape, alternate routes send travelers on a long detour that takes about three times as long and covers about 85 miles.

The Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board said in a message shared on its website after the Teton Pass collapse that all businesses in the city as well as Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks would remain open. The board also acknowledged that closing the highway indefinitely could impact workers who live in Idaho and commute to Teton County, who make up about 40% of the county's workforce, according to that message.

“While businesses will do their best to support staff and travellers, and work to remain open and maintain normal operating hours and services, it is expected that the workforce will be impacted,” the Travel and Tourism Board said. “As a community, we urge visitors and locals to be patient and understanding if you encounter longer than usual wait times or disruptions to services.”


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