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Section Of Major Mountain Pass Highway Collapses

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A large section of the Teton Pass road, a well-traveled mountain pass highway connecting Jackson, Wyoming, and eastern Idaho collapsed in a landslide.

Jackson is the gateway to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

“Aerial photos and drone video of the collapse show the Teton Pass road riven with deep cracks, and a big section of the pavement disappeared altogether,” the Associated Press reports.

The road gradually collapsed, going from a few small cracks to a large chunk of the pavement breaking apart.

It was closed at the time of the collapse.

“Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon shared video footage at milepost 12.8 from someone who nearly got swept away as the ground gave way,” Collin Rugg wrote.

Gordon said a timeline for reopening the road is unclear.

“At this point, we do not have an estimated timeline for the road to reopen. I recognize the impacts this closure has to Teton County residents, regional commuters and the local economy, and we are in direct communication with local officials,” Gordon said.

WATCH:

From the Associated Press:

The section that failed first drew attention Thursday when a crack and drop in the road contributed to the crash of a motorcycle.

Geologists and engineers who were sent to the area that day noticed “that crack and that drop started to move a lot,” said Stephanie Harsha, a spokesperson for District 3 of the Wyoming Department of Transportation. A paving crew temporarily patched the road, and traffic began moving again that night.

But that was short-lived as maintenance crews were sent to respond to a mudslide a couple of miles away in the pre-dawn hours of Friday, prompting the road to be closed once again.

Crews then noticed that the damage to the pavement had become more pronounced. Workers trying to figure out a detour around that section left for the night, “and by 5 a.m., this morning, WYDOT had discovered that the road had completely failed,” Harsha said Saturday.

“We were very, very lucky that no crews were harmed. No equipment was damaged,” she said. “So now, engineers and geologists are doing geological assessments on the pass. They’ve been looking at it all day.”

The transportation department said via social media that the road “catastrophically failed” at milepost 12.8.

The New York Post reports:

It was not immediately clear how long it would take to reopen the highway, which is a vital road for people who live across the border in Idaho and work in Jackson, a popular tourist attraction that serves at the gateway for many visitors to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park.

Wyoming Department of Transportation Director Darin Westby addressed these concerns in a statement and said that the catastrophic failure could not have been avoided.

”We understand this highway is a lifeline for commuters, deliveries, medical care access and tourism, especially with limited alternatives and the summer season upon us. WYDOT engineers, surveyors and geologists mobilized quickly to try to maintain highway viability as long as possible, but catastrophic failure could not be avoided,” Westby said.

“WYDOT remains on site decisively engaged on fixing the road and restoring connectivity to the Teton Valley. Safety is our utmost priority, and we ask that recreationists and curious residents avoid the area until it can be stabilized.”

An alternative route between Jackson and the area of Victor, Idaho, goes more than 60 miles out of the way and adds “quite a bit to any commute,” Harsha said.

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