An aerial view of the State Highway 14 slide at milepost 39.
UPDATE, Feb. 25, 10 a.m. - Due to extensive damage caused by a massive landslide on Idaho State Highway 14 that began Feb. 18, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter today (Thursday, Feb. 25) has issued a State Disaster Emergency Declaration in support of Idaho County.
The declaration, approved by the Governor Wednesday, ensures that all available resources will be brought to bear in the landslide response. Primary focus areas continue to be the safety of the residents in the Elk City area with restricted access into and out of their communities.
Engineers estimate it may take approximately two to three weeks to fully re-open State Highway 14 and remove an estimated 100 thousand cubic yards of slide debris. The debris is 40 to 60 feet deep and covers about 500 feet of roadway.
“We are grateful beyond measure that no one was killed or seriously injured by the landslide,” said Governor Otter. “This event has profoundly disrupted the lives and livelihoods of residents in Idaho County. State and local agencies are working together to help restore access to Elk City and Dixie and other communities on this vital roadway. I also want to encourage civic-minded volunteer organizations to reach out to this community in their time of need.”
The governor’s declaration is a prerequisite to access Federal Highway Administration Emergency Relief (FHWA) funding. The Idaho Emergency Operations Center is providing all available support to ITD and Idaho County in order that this critical route be reopened as soon as possible.
A Forest Service Road is being used as an emergency alternate route until the Idaho Transportation Department clears and repairs Highway 14.
UPDATE, Feb. 25, 10:15 a.m. - Crews begin clearing material from Idaho 14 landslide
ELK CITY - Several contractors began work yesterday (Wednesday, Feb. 24) to start clearing the estimated 100,000 cubic yards of material that closed a section of Idaho 14 in the late afternoon on Feb. 18.
Six contractors are contributing a half-dozen dump trucks and a pair of excavators to break up rocks, load and haul material away from the downriver/Grangeville side of the slide.
“Our immediate goal is to create a path to be able to move equipment and trucks to the upriver/Elk City side, so we can work from both ends,” said ITD north central operations engineer Bob Schumacher.
The timetable to open one new lane has not yet been determined, but ITD will open one lane to traffic as soon as the agency can safely do so. The department’s goal is to completely open the roadway (both lanes) to the traveling public in four to five weeks.
ITD has also contracted with another agency to gain access to the top of the slide to remove trees in the large scarp area above the open face. Once that work is complete, a contractor will begin excavating the loose materials at the top of the slide.