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Highway 55 to remain closed through Thanksgiving

The route through Smith's Ferry Road is closed to all traffic at this time.
Credit: Idaho Transportation Department

CASCADE, Idaho — Highway 55 will remain closed through the Thanksgiving weekend following a rockfall between Sportsman Access and Round Valley Road, which is between 11 and 14 miles south of Cascade. 

The route through Smith's Ferry Road is closed to all traffic at this time. The road is narrow, windy, and not maintained for this heavy traffic, according to ITD.

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) said crews determined it is still unsafe to open the road and are working as much as they can to safely clear the road.

On Monday afternoon, ITD announced that the highway will remain closed through at least Nov. 29.

ITD's geotechnical team is "assessing the slide to determine the stability of the hillside and to help the construction team create a solution to shore up that section to ensure it will remain safe", according to a Facebook post from the Valley County Sheriff's Office.

Officials said on Monday the crew began on a plan that would create a wall 20 feet tall by 500 feet long to shore up the slope that would allow for a temporary road to be built around it. However, crews need to first clear the road of boulders and mud.

"Our goal is to reopen the highway as soon as possible. This is potentially dangerous work on an unstable slope. We need to take the time to ensure the safety of our construction team and eventually the traveling public once the road is reopened," District 3 Engineering Manager Jason Brinkman said in a statement.

Drivers planning to travel for the holiday will need to plan to use US 95 during the closure. ITD plans to send daily updates on the road clearance throughout the week.

"We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused," ITD said. "Not what we had hoped for leading into the holiday weekend, but we appreciate your understanding and patience."

Officials said the rockslide brought down between 30,000 and 50,000 cubic yards of debris onto the highway. From the roadway to the top, the rockfall measures 200 feet tall and is about 250 feet wide at the base.

The route over Smith's Ferry Rd is closed to all traffic, including local traffic. ITD flaggers will be manning this road and only allowing emergency and authorized vehicles through. This road is not safe for heavy traffic, it is narrow, windy and not maintained for this type of detour.

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