Moisture in the air, rocks on the road

This time of year, with precipitation coming in the form of snow, rain or even fog with a high moisture content, the likelihood of rocks and debris releasing from hillsides is ever-present, as shown yesterday in District 1.

A rock and mudslide on Idaho 97, carrying an estimated 250-300 cubic yards (nearly 450 tons) of debris hit the area of Beauty Bay southwest of Wolf Lodge at approximately 9:47 a.m. Thursday. No injuries were reported.

Crews removed the debris using loaders, backhoes and a dump truck. All debris and material was taken to ITD’s Wolf Lodge stockpile site. A single lane was reopened for travel by 3 p.m., and the second lane was opened and operational by 5 p.m.

With the debris removed, ITD is assessing damage to the roadway and will schedule appropriate repairs.

“Dave Palmer, foreman for ITD’s Coeur d’ Alene S&E Maintenance Crew, and his staff were there in a matter of minutes and did an excellent job in getting the site stabilized, safe and back open very quickly,” said District 1 Administrative and Business Manager Scotty Fellom.

Fellom said there was no active detour available in that area. Travelers had to go on Idaho 3 back St. Maries and Plummer to Coeur d’Alene, a 50-60 mile re-routing at the least.

A nice video of the slide and clean up is posted on the website of the Coeur d’Alene Press, at

The day before, a 50-ton boulder fell down the hillside in Boise and landed on Warm Springs Avenue before 4 a.m. Again, no injuries were reported. The rock was discovered by an Ada County Highway District crew member making morning rounds.

ACHD reported that the roadway could remain closed for up to a week as crews determine the best method for dealing with the huge boulder and assessing any damage done to the road underneath.

Reportedly, the city of Boise requested the rock be kept in one piece for their use.

Published 01-09-15