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Everything you need to know about the Teton Pass closure

Crews work to find a way to repair the Teton Pass collapse. | Image courtesy of Wyoming Department of Transportation.

JACKSON, Wyoming – Following the “catastrophic failure” of Wyoming Highway 22 on one of the most frequently used mountain passes in the West, authorities are providing guidance on navigation around Teton Pass in the coming months.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) closed access to Wyoming Highway 22 over Teton Pass on Thursday and Friday due to a landslide at mile marker 12.8 and a mudslide at mile marker 15.

Teton Pass was closed Thursday afternoon when large cracks were discovered in the roadway at mile 12.8. The road was temporarily patched and reopened.

According to WYDOT, the Teton Pass highway was closed again at 4:18 a.m. Friday morning after a landslide occurred at mile marker 15 near the weigh house, damaging both lanes.

Later, on Friday evening, a landslide at mile 12.8, the same spot where the first cracks formed, caused a “catastrophic collapse” of the pass.

People in Teton County, Wyoming, where Jackson is located and is considered Wyoming's tourism capital, expect the economic impact of the pass damage to be significant.

In 2023, the county generated over $1.7 billion in travel and tourism-related spending.

From July 2022 to June 2023, tourism in Teton County generated $10 million in lodging tax revenue and created 7,890 tourism-related jobs.

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More than 2,500 Idaho workers commute over Teton Pass every day, contributing significantly to the county's revenue through their daily commutes, according to the state's website.

According to the Jackson Hole News & Guide, more than 50 of these employees work in schools in Jackson.

Due to the damage, these workers must now use alternative routes. This adjustment is expected to lead to an increase in traffic congestion, especially as the summer season approaches.

For this reason, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon issued an emergency decree on Saturday and promised additional funding from the Federal Highway Administration to begin repair work on the pass.

RELATED TOPICS | Teton Pass Road has 'catastrophically failed'

“We are closely monitoring this ongoing situation and Wyoming Department of Transportation staff are working diligently to find a long-term solution to rebuild this important roadway,” Gordon said. “I recognize the significant impact this closure has on Teton County residents, commuters in the area and the local economy.”

What happens now to fix the passport?

Many construction workers and geologists are working around the clock to develop the best methods to open the pass as safely and efficiently as possible.

According to a press release from the Wyoming Department of Transportation, geologists and engineers are studying the area and developing a long-term plan to rebuild the road.

WYDOT says geologists and engineers are confident they can build a safe, temporary detour around the landslide area using local fill material and two temporary lanes. They hope to have the temporary detour open to the public in a few weeks, likely with some strict weight and width restrictions.

There is no estimated timeline for final construction. In preparation for reconstruction, WYDOT will fly over the area with a survey aircraft and conduct geological drilling.

“This is considered an extended closure and there is currently no estimated opening date,” the release said. “WYDOT staff have been working closely with other agencies and partners to secure the area and evaluate possible temporary access as well as long-term reconstruction options.”

RELATED | Teton Pass closed for second time in two days after landslide

At Mile 15, crews are still trying to get the landslide under control, and geologists and engineers are working on a plan to build a culvert to improve drainage in the affected area.

“They plan to do this work concurrently with the temporary detour work at mile 12.8,” the release said. “The work is dependent on the availability of labor and materials, but WYDOT's goal is to complete this work when the temporary detour at mile 12.8 is ready for limited traffic.”

Teton Pass | Courtesy of Wyoming Department of Transportation

Can I still come to Jackson?

You can still get to Jackson – it will just take a little longer. The closure only affects traffic between Jackson, Wyoming and Teton County, Idaho.

  • Coming from the west, drive through Swan Valley and Snake River Canyon and reach Jackson from Hoback, Wyoming. From Idaho Falls, the drive takes about 2 hours.
  • If you are coming from the north, take Wyoming 191 through the national parks. From Island Park, the drive takes about 2 hours and 55 minutes.
  • If you are coming from the southeast, drive through Pinedale and Hoback Canyon.

Who is most affected?

The hardest hit city is Victor, Idaho, which is home to travelers who often drive to Jackson. Before the pass was closed, the typical travel time from Victor to Jackson was about 40 minutes for a distance of 24 miles.

The alternate route from Swan Valley to Alpine and then up to Snake River Canyon is 85 miles, for a total driving time of almost 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Is operations in Jackson still running normally?

Yes, stores in Jackson, Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park continue to operate as usual.

The city introduced a new commuter system effective Monday.

RELATED TOPICS | New photos and details: Large portion of Teton Pass road in Wyoming collapses; unclear how quickly it can be rebuilt

The START Bus Transportation System has revised the 2024 summer season schedule for the Teton Valley Commuter due to the closure of Wyoming Highway 22/Teton Pass.

Transfers will now take place at the Maple Way (morning) and Hampton Inn (afternoon) stops instead of the Stilson Transit Center. The Hungry Jack's Wilson bus stop is now closed to all START bus service until further notice.

START bus fares remain unchanged at $8 per single ride for commuters. START continues to accept all bus passes and encourages you to support traffic reduction during the summer season by riding the bus, walking, biking, or using a rideshare program.

For details on all summer routes, schedules and fares, visit www.startbus.com or contact START Bus directly at (307) 733-4521.

If you have further questions about your travel plans, the City recommends contacting the City of Jackson Chamber of Commerce at (307) 733-3316 or contacting local lodging or businesses directly for up-to-date information on operations and services.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misstated the milestones where the landslide and mudslide occurred. The information has been corrected. EastIdahoNews.com apologizes for the error.

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Anna Harden

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