Three weeks after a landslide, Wyoming will reopen a highway critical for commuters

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Crews were almost done building a temporary route on Tuesday around a landslide that closed a vital road for thousands of workers in a western Wyoming resort town.

Wyoming Department of Transportation officials were eyeing Friday to reopen Wyoming Highway 22. The road over Teton Pass near the Idaho state line has been closed since the landslide sent both lanes crashing into a deep ravine June 8.

No one was hurt when the pavement gave way. The road was already closed because another landslide had washed mud and debris across the road nearby.

Yet the collapse was a big headache for thousands of commuters. Many people work in Jackson — a ski and tourism hub at the doorstep of Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks where the average home costs millions — and live in more affordable eastern Idaho.

The destroyed highway has been forcing them to take a different route to the south, adding over an hour to their commute each way.

Cars will need to slow down through the temporary section to 20 miles per hour (32 kilometers per hour) but won't have to stop, said Bob Hammond, an engineer with the Wyoming Department of Transportation. The two paved lanes will span about 600-700 feet (180-230 meters).

“We have a steeper grade, which really isn’t that big of a problem. But the turns are a little tighter,” Hammond said during a news media site tour Tuesday.

A permanent fix costing perhaps upward of $20 million will take longer, Hammond said.

The Associated Press