Large Rockfall Closes Vital Road in Central Idaho

Alex Camerino | RaftRaft
Rocks 20 feet deep close road
At 120 feet wide and 40 feet deep, Idaho Department of Transportation expects Highway 95 to remain closed for the foreseeable future. Photo: KTVB

A large rockfall has closed a section of highway 95 just south of Riggins in central Idaho. The incident occurred shortly after 11 am on Friday, July 3rd and as a result, the road has been closed since then. US Route 95 is a vital road through the state as it is the only road running north/south in that part of the state.

IDT Road Closure
Highway 95 closed just south of Riggins, Idaho. Photo: ITD

With no alternate routes around the affected area, motorists must detour about 10 hours to the west, or about 13 hours to the east. This poses an issue for all boaters running the Salmon River in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. While French Creek Rd. appears to be a detour option for those taking off the river just east of Riggins, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) advises against it. The steep and winding road is not suitable for trailers and is recommended that only experienced mountain drivers attempt the road.

Alternate route not advised
While it is possible to detour via French Creek Road, the Forest Service advises against it. The single-lane road is very steep with tight switchbacks. It is not suitable for trailers or inexperienced drivers. Photo: GoogleMaps

Attempting a Detour

Over the holiday weekend, crews from ITD began to assemble equipment and assess the situation. Plans to open a short detour around the closed section of the road were scrapped Sunday afternoon when crews noticed new cracks forming in the hillside. As a result of the unstable rock, crews evacuated the area until it was safe to reenter the area.

By Monday afternoon crews completed constructing a detour around the debris. There is still no estimated time for the road to open as many of the rocks are 20 feet in diameter or larger. The initial slide was 120 feet long and up to 40 feet deep in places.

Rockfall Closes Road in Central Idaho
Crews construct a temporary road around rockfall. Shipping containers are being placed in between the detour and debris for safety. Photo: KTVB

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