Teton Pass reopens to commuter, tourist traffic 

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Teton Pass reopens to commuter, tourist traffic 
A START bus is shown driving through the new Teton Pass detour. (Photo courtesy WYDOT)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) reopened Wyoming Highway 22/Teton Pass to live traffic at noon today, just three weeks after the Big Fill landslide severed the Teton Valley. 

“While temporary, this detour safely reconnects communities and gives commuting families their valuable personal time back,” said WYDOT Director Darin Westby. “This process underscores the vital importance of infrastructure like mountain passes that connect people to work, family, medical care, affordable housing and other necessities.” 

WYDOT wants to reassure highway users that the slide area will be continually monitored as engineers and other professionals now look to designing and planning the reconstruction of the section of highway impacted by the slide. The goal is to have Teton Pass completely rebuilt before the worst of winter arrives. 

“Together with our stakeholders, partners, contractors and community advocates, we were able to accomplish this major feat in a matter of weeks – despite expectations that it would take months, or even years – all while keeping safety paramount,” said WYDOT District 3 Engineer, John Eddins. “Of course, we have so many to thank for this achievement.” 

Evans Construction and its subcontractors worked around the clock, even through Father’s Day weekend, to build the temporary detour. WYDOT commends Evans for their dedication, responsiveness and efficiency as their crews accomplished this massive undertaking. 

Avail Valley Construction was also commended for the quick work on the mudslide cleanup and culvert installation at mile marker 15. Understanding the need to relieve commuters from the strain of a nearly four-hour commute, Avail has agreed to continue work with live traffic to allow the detour to open. WYDOT thanks Avail for their flexibility and responsiveness. 

The Wyoming Transportation Commission held two special meetings to quickly approve emergency funding in order for Avail and Evans to continue moving forward. WYDOT appreciates the extra time their commissioners put in to support the repair process. 

WYDOT also thanked Governor Gordon for the quick emergency declaration, which sped up the emergency federal funding on this project. The funding helped WYDOT stay on track with the vital highway maintenance and construction work needed elsewhere in the state. 

According to WYDOT, the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration were also extremely supportive with emergency funding assistance. 

Congressional delegates of Idaho and Wyoming were also instrumental in WYDOT’s quick receipt of emergency federal funding thanks to letters to the USDOT and FHWA and other vocal support.  

The Caribou-Targhee National Forest was also an essential partner as WYDOT engineers worked on the detour through the National Forest land, expediting permitting procedures and collaborating with engineers live onsite. WYDOT stated their thanks for the partnership, with specific thanks to the hard work of District Ranger Jay Pence. 

WYDOT also commended the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD). ITD crews assisted with the mudslide cleanup at mile marker 15, especially in the aftermath of the Big Fill slide June 8. ITD also provided WYDOT with concrete barriers for the detour, among other assistance. 

Lastly, WYDOT also praised the Teton Valley communities in both Idaho and Wyoming for acting quickly in assisting commuters and tourists with travel adjustments and other relief efforts in the wake of the extended highway closure. 

“I think every Wyoming resident or regional commuter can be proud of their transportation department,” Westby said. “WYDOT staff from a variety of departments and areas of expertise rolled up their sleeves and got to work for the people – a master level class in public service.” 

Dana Guthrie

Dana Guthrie is an award-winning journalist who has been featured in multiple newspapers, books and magazines across the globe. She is currently based in the Atlanta, Georgia, area.

Avatar for Dana Guthrie
Dana Guthrie is an award-winning journalist who has been featured in multiple newspapers, books and magazines across the globe. She is currently based in the Atlanta, Georgia, area.
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