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$880K price tag to fix mudslide on Teton Pass

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Jasmine Hall with the Jackson Hole News&Guide, via the Wyoming News Exchange

JACKSON — Hiding in the shadow of a landslide that severed part of Teton Pass on Saturday is a mudslide that will cost $880,600 to address.

The Wyoming Transportation Commission approved a contract Thursday for Avail Valley Construction in Idaho to start on the “mudslide emergency project” as soon as possible. It was the lowest bid, and closely aligned with the engineers’ estimate of $767,000.

State commissioners, who hold the purse strings of the Wyoming Department of Transportation, met just two days prior to approve a $430,000 contract for the short-term detour to get the pass open. WYDOT officials have repeatedly assured the public it will be open in two weeks as long as the good weather holds, with crews working 24 hours a day.

WYDOT is aiming for a long-term fix on the pass to be finished by November, before winter kicks in, but couldn’t make any promises.

“We’re truly in this together,” WYDOT Director Darin Westby said Thursday. “And please know that we’re working as hard as we can to get that detour complete and get Highway 22 flowing again.”

The Transportation Commission expected a second special meeting to get an update on the detour at mile marker 12.8 and take immediate action on the area farther down the pass that is still active with flowing water.

Teton Pass was closed temporarily last Thursday for a crack in the road that eventually turned into the catastrophic landslide. Then, early Friday morning, the Department of Transportation had to close the road for a mudslide blocking both lanes at milepost 15.

Westby said it will require construction workers to cut in a 7-by-7-foot concrete box culvert on the road that will allow for drainage to address any future mudslides. The scale house was also damaged in the mudslide and will need repairs. Contractors gave a completion date of July 19.

The project will not delay the opening of the detour. Westby said the section of road that is being cut is wide enough to maintain two lanes, but it will likely contribute to heavy traffic.

“I hate to say this out loud, but we’re almost fortunate we’re able to do both at the same time,” said Commissioner Jim Willox, representing Converse, Natrona and Fremont counties.

The cost of the project will be lower because less expedited work is needed and there is more time with the entire road shut down. However, the $880,600 bill will be footed by the federal government with the emergency declaration in place.

Westby said the contractors had to adhere to federal requirements when the mudslide repair was put out to bid, and Avail is prepared to meet those to qualify for the funding.

The next meeting to discuss action on Teton Pass is June 20.

“It’s destroyed their family time,” said Commissioner Patrick Crank, representing Goshen, Platte and Laramie counties, addressing the impact of the closure. “It’s disrupted their daycare schedules and their child care options. It’s put their family finances in jeopardy.

“You can say the same thing about construction workers that have to commute to Jackson, grocery store clerks, nurses, and many others, and those folks really needed help. WYDOT has stepped up in a monstrous way to, in just a week, try to help those folks out.”

This story was published on June 14, 2024.

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