Crews working on bypass around collapsed section of Teton Pass highway

The Wyoming Department of Transportation said it’s confident a safe, temporary two-lane detour around the slide can be built in a few weeks.
An aerial photograph shows crews removing trees in Caribou-Targhee National Forest to make room for the detour. (Courtesy of WYDOT)

Wyoming officials are scrambling to reconnect eastern Idaho and northwest Wyoming after a significant portion of highway over Teton Pass collapsed due to a landslide June 8.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) is constructing a new road through the Caribou-Targhee National Forest to bypass the missing chunk of highway over Teton Pass.

“Currently, WYDOT geologists and engineers are confident they can build a safe, temporary detour around the slide area using local fill material and paving two temporary lanes. They are hoping to have a temporary detour open to the public, likely with some strict weight and width restrictions, in a few weeks,” the agency wrote in a press release June 10.

“These guys are working around the clock to ensure that we can get at least a detour open as soon as possible,” WYDOT Director Darin Westby said at a county meeting.


At a town meeting later Monday, Teton County Emergency Management Coordinator Rich Ochs told town councilors WYDOT is cutting down trees to build the detour to the side of the collapsed roadway.

But ultimately, he couldn’t share much about the plan — Highway 22 is a state roadway — meaning it’s primarily state agencies making the decisions using primarily state resources.

“Our costs are mostly indirect,” Ochs said.

Geologists and engineers are evaluating the stability of the area WYDOT has dubbed “Big Fill” to put together a long-term plan to rebuild the roadway, but there’s no timeline for construction as of now. WYDOT said it will be flying the area with a survey plane and doing some geological drilling in preparation for the reconstruction. 

The blowout at Wyoming Highway 22 milepost 12.8 follows a separate mudslide at milepost 15, which crews continue to manage. Geologists and engineers are installing a box culvert to provide more drainage to the affected area. WYDOT said its goal is to finish this work by the time the temporary detour at milepost 12.8 is ready for limited traffic.

Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks remain open to visitors and local town and county departments are assuring the public, Jackson is too. WYDOT is working with the U.S. Forest Service to offer access to recreation and campsites unaffected by either slide.

Teton Pass connects the popular tourist destination of Jackson with more than 3,000 of the town’s workers living in Idaho. The area generates about a third of the state’s travel and tourism tax revenue.

Until it’s built, the pass is closed to commuters indefinitely, forcing them to travel over an hour out of the way.

WYDOT estimates Teton Pass sees an annual average daily traffic of almost 10,000 vehicles per day in certain locations along the pass. Summer highs can reach 15,000 vehicles.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon has issued an emergency declaration in response to both slides to mobilize additional resources and personnel. The declaration also helps the state access additional resources from the Federal Highway Administration.

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