A day in the life of ITD's 'rock patrol'

Credit: Mike di Donato/ KTVB

A day in the life of ITD's 'rock patrol'

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by Stephanie Zepelin

Bio | Email | Follow: @ktvbstephanie

KTVB.COM

Posted on March 20, 2013 at 9:44 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 8:49 AM

VALLEY COUNTY -- Idaho's spring weather typically causes rock slides, especially in mountain areas. That's when the Idaho Transportation Department goes out and clears rocks and boulders off the road.

That means winter might be over, but the plows aren't parked.

ROCKING 'OUT'

"We keep the snowplows attached to the front of the trucks," said Idaho Transportation Department spokesperson Reed Hollinshead.

With rain and melting snow, the Idaho Transportation Department uses the heavy implements to remove rocks and boulders.

"This rain that we're getting and melting of the snow loosens up the soil on the hillside and can bring the rocks down, and then we're equipped, if we've got the plows, to move that right off the road," said Hollinshead.

Dan Conner is in his tenth year with ITD.

"We've had them come down, hit the side of our truck as we're driving down the road," Conner said.

Conner has been working rock patrol for about a decade.

"There's always something different," Conner said. "You get lots of reports [that] it's Volkswagen size, and it might be the size of a softball. So, every trip down is kind of a surprise. We don't want the traveling public to come by, and possibly not see it, or come around a corner and run into it, and save someone's life possibly."

FIRE SEASON CONNECTED TO MORE BOULDERS?

Officials say after last year's heavy fire season, drivers should expect more big rocks on the road.

Indeed, Conner said the biggest boulder he's seen was the size of a Volkswagen.

Crews will be out working on rock patrol until the rainy season is over, and then they'll transition into summer construction work.

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