Wyoming’s Teton Pass Road Collapses in Landslide: ‘Catastrophic Failure’

A mountain pass road near the popular tourist destination of Jackson, Wyoming, collapsed Saturday after a landslide, adding at least an hour of travel time for those who drive on the roadway. The roadway at milepost 12.8 on Teton Pass “catastrophically failed,” severing a large chunk of the winding road, and will remain closed as officials plan how to repair the damage, the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) said.

“We understand this highway is a lifeline for commuters, deliveries, medical care access, and tourism, especially with limited alternatives and the summer season upon us,” WYDOT Director Darin Westby said in a statement.

Aerial photos and drone video show a sheer chasm where the roadway’s pavement used to be, and a guardrail dangling down the collapsed section onto loose dirt and rocks. The road was closed at the time of the collapse as crews attempted to address a major crack that split the roadway on Friday and was becoming more pronounced as the land continued to move.

Maintenance crews first responded to the area that would eventually collapse on Friday when a large crack was reported. Officials said the crack in the roadway continued to grow despite efforts to maintain the road.

“WYDOT engineers, surveyors, and geologists mobilized quickly to try to maintain highway viability as long as possible, but catastrophic failure could not be avoided,” Westby said. Officials said the roadway was closed at the time of the collapse and no one was injured. No one was injured, and no equipment was damaged when the roadway finally collapsed, officials said.

“I am grateful for the efforts of WYDOT staff to protect public safety during this developing situation, and am thankful no one was injured during this incident,” Gov. Mark Gordon said in a statement.

Gordon said WYDOT geologists and engineers are on site conducting an assessment and will develop a long-term plan to rebuild the collapsed roadway. “At this point, we do not have an estimated timeline for the road to reopen,” Gordon said. “I recognize the impacts this closure has to Teton County residents, regional commuters, and the local economy, and we are in direct communication with local officials.”

Stephanie Harsha, a spokesperson for District 3 of the Wyoming Department of Transportation, told The Associated Press that an alternate route between Jackson and the area of Victor, Idaho, goes more than 60 miles out of the way and adds “quite a bit to any commute.” Officials said there is no estimated timeline for reopening the roadway.

Teton Pass is a well-traveled commuter link between small towns in eastern Idaho and the tourist destination of Jackson. Jackson is a town in Wyoming’s Jackson Hole valley, a ritzy destination for skiers, and located near Grand Teton National Park. The median home price in Jackson was $2.8 million in May, according to Realtor.com.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.