WyDOT UPDATE -U.S. 14 remains closed about 31.5 miles east of Greybull due to a slide, but a contractor began mobilizing Wednesday to build a detour on the uphill side the sliding highway.
The contractor hopes to open U.S. 14 to through traffic by Saturday, July 2.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation gave verbal approval Wednesday to allow Wilson Brothers Construction of Cowley to begin work constructing the detour.
“Awarding the $164,877 bid to Wilson Brothers Construction was based on their bid and their ability to start work today,” said Ron Huff, WYDOT district maintenance engineer in Basin. “They will be mobilizing equipment to the work site today, and they plan on having the detour open to traffic on July 2.”
Huff said the detour will be constructed to handle two lanes of traffic and will be paved “due to the length of time that we anticipate the detour to be in place.”
Movement of the 100-foot section of highway above Shell Falls — 31.5 miles east of Greybull – was first discovered Friday, June 10. The highway has remained closed on each side of the sliding highway since Monday, June 13. Recreational traffic is permitted to travel to milepost 31.5 at Ranger Creek on the west side of the mountain, while recreational traffic coming from the east side of the mountains is permitted to travel up to milepost 33, two miles south of Antelope Butte Ski Area.
“The slide continues to move but has not completely slid down the mountain,” according to Ron Huff, WYDOT district maintenance engineer in Basin earlier this week. “The guardrail is now not functioning, as 90 percent of it is either out of the ground or detached from the posts because of the ongoing movement of this slide.”
Huff said WYDOT officials are working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to secure a permit to build the detour through a wetland on the uphill side of the sliding highway, but the timetable for WYDOT to receive the permit is unknown at this time.
About 100 feet of U.S. 14 east of Greybull is in danger of being lost due to a slide which has closed the highway about 31.5 miles east of Greybull, according to WyDOT.
Movement of the highway above Shell Falls was first discovered Friday, June 10, and the highway was closed for the first time Saturday evening, June 11. The highway re-opened Sunday, June 12, following repairs, but it closed again Sunday evening. The road re-opened Monday afternoon, June 13, following repairs, but it closed about 8 p.m. Monday following an assessment by geologists and engineers with the Wyoming Department of Transportation.
The highway remains closed Tuesday.
“The slide and 100-foot section of highway are moving at a rapid rate, and they dropped another eight inches Monday night,” said Keith Compton, WYDOT district construction engineer in Basin. “We believed we would lose the highway Monday night, but as of today, it’s still there.”
Compton said the outline of the “circular failure type slide” is visible.
“We were hoping to keep the road open during daylight hours, but it is proving to be difficult,” Compton said. “For safety reasons, the road is currently closed.”
WYDOT is currently assessing ways to build a detour on the uphill side of the sliding highway.
During the time U.S. 14 remains closed, motorists may use U.S. 16 via Worland and U.S. 14A as alternative routes from Greybull to Sheridan. WYDOT is encouraging truck drivers, tour bus drivers and drivers of heavily-loaded vehicles to use U.S. 16 or U.S. 310 to reach the Sheridan area.