4th OF JULY PASS – Motorists heading west over 4th of July Pass Thursday morning were probably surprised to be greeted by a large amount of ruble piled up in the road as they made their way toward Coeur d’Alene.
The Idaho Transportation Department reports that due to a combination of warmer temperatures and melting snow, part of the hillside roughly two miles east of the top of 4th of July Pass collapsed under its own weight and spilled onto westbound Interstate 90.
The debris have completely blocked the right lane closest to the hill and are partially covering the left lane closer to the median.
ITD Communications Officer Megan Sausser explains that the cause for a slide such as this is common among others across the state.
“Typically its due to a extreme freeze/thaw cycle,” she said. “You freeze up and get precipitation like snow that sits on the slopes, then we warm up and everything is thawing, it becomes heavy, and goes down hill which causes rock falls and hill slides.”
Crews with ITD and Troopers with Idaho State Police responded to the area not long after it was reported. Sausser expects that both westbound lanes could be cleared by Saturday or Sunday at the latest. In the meantime though, traffic has been reduced to one lane in that area.
When it comes to dealing with rock slides, ITD makes safety their number one priority.
Sausser says that the first thing ITD does in situations like this is to block off the area and make sure no one was caught in the rock slide. After that is done, they reassess the conditions of the roadway and the involved slope. If conditions are deemed safe, any debris blocking the roadway are removed and another assessment is conducted to find a permanent fix for both the road and hill side (if needed).
As of Thursday afternoon, no injuries had been reported as a result of the incident.