Crandall – People who live deep in the mountains near Cody feel safer now. They didn’t know if a collapsing section of the Chief Joseph Highway would leave them stranded. The Wyoming Department of Transportation workers met with neighbors Tuesday.
The section of the Chief Joseph Highway that started collapsing late last week is crumpled on the side of a mountain. Only the shoulder is left, for people to drive in and out of Sunlight Basin, and Crandall.
A few people live year round in the remote mountains northwest of Cody. The residents weren’t sure they wouldn’t be stranded, if the remaining lane collapsed. For now, the only other way out is blocked by miles of snow on Highway 212, also known as the Beartooth Highway.
The road to Cooke City, and the northeast Entrance to Yellowstone is closed to vehicles, and won’t be open until they clear the snow in the next couple of weeks.
A WYDOT engineer told these people there’s an old road that could be used as a detour as a last resort.
Peter Hallsten told them specialists from Colorado will start stabilizing the road Wednesday. People will be able to drive through the area, if they are on site at the top of the hour. He says there will be a weight restriction while the specialists “nail the road”
Hallsten explained, “They’re going to install some soil nails, which is installing metal bars horizontally into the dirt with grout.”
Hallsten said it’s a temporary fix. The work may limit the slide area to one lane all summer long. He said it will take a couple of years to rebuild the highway that slid down the mountainside.
Bertie Eastman didn’t know there was a possible detour, but she wasn’t afraid of being stranded.
Eastman explained, “We’ve had things like that happen up here before. That’s kind of the adventure of living up here, and it’s kind of to be expected.”
18 Year Resident Sherie Lange said, “We just need to plan ahead, and when we go down, we need to get a lot of groceries.”
One of the area residents knows a lot about the mountains. He is Hank Hessler: Yellowstone’s retired geologist. He said the slide area has been a problem since it was a dirt county road..
Hessler commented, “I have a great deal of faith in WYDOT. They have geologists. They have great engineers. They study a problem well, and they’re somewhat regional experts on landslides.”
One lane of the same section of road slid down the mountain slope last spring. Hallsten said they weren’t surprised by this year’s collapse. He said it happened sooner than they expected, however.