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ITD prepping for final blasting work near Highway 95 rockslide

The highway near Riggins has reopened to drivers, but ITD says travelers should expect some periods of limited access through the area over the next two months.
Credit: ITD
The Idaho Transportation Department is continuing to monitor the slope above US Highway 95 where a massive rockslide occurred earlier this month. The highway remains closed.

RIGGINS, Idaho — The Idaho Transportation Department will begin drilling Thursday in preparation for the controlled blasting and repairs to the site of a major rockslide on Highway 95.

The blasting and reinforcement of the rock face are part of long-term repairs to the area, and are scheduled to be finished in late October.

The highway near Riggins has reopened to drivers, but ITD says travelers should expect some periods of limited access through the area over the next two months.

RELATED: Before and after: Sawtooth rock slide topples mountain-top climbing landmark

"Over the next two months, drivers should expect intermittent closures on US-95 or Old Pollock Road," Hopkins said. "We will alternate between the two routes to accommodate traffic, with a complete closure of both only planned for the day we blast." 

Before dynamite can be used to remove an estimated 14,000 cubic yards of stone, crews need to complete drilling to safely remove debris from the slope, as well as build up the rock berm to catch debris and shield drivers.

RELATED: Massive boulders crash down on highway overnight near earlier rockslide

 "Once those two steps are completed, then we can proceed to blasting," Operations Engineer Jared Hopkins said. "Drivers won't be affected until we blast, which is not scheduled until early September."

After blasting is complete, geotechnical experts will finish removing any loose material, then use before steel bolts to fasten the remaining rock in place. Workers will also install wire fencing and drains in the area.

"Reinforcing the slope with bolts and fencing will be the most time-consuming task but will not impact traffic," Hopkins said.

RELATED: Massive rockslide impacts business for Riggins rafting companies amid COVID-19 pandemic

The project is expected to cost an estimated $3 million.