SHERIDAN — Wyoming Department of Transportation road crews have created a hasty bypass on HIghway 14 East of Sheridan after a landslide first noticed this spring made significant movement over the past few days. The emergency action allows the road to remain open, yet keeps traffic away from the potential hazard.
WYDOT District 4 Public Information Specialist Ronda Holwell said crews cut further into the hillside above the slide area and paved another lane to allow traffic to stay away from the unsteady ground near mile marker 15.4, Jim Creek Hill.
While there are different types of landslides, this one features earth that is crumbling away from the embankment underneath the highway, as opposed to another type of slide when debris falls from above and onto the road.
Holwell said the fix for this problem was to divert traffic away from the edge of the hillside.
“Basically, we went out, grated the area, cut into the hill more and paved. We made the detour right next to it,” Holwell said. “One lane is still on the roadway, and the other is moved over.”
Holwell said the landslide is one of several in northeast Wyoming.
“A lot of times, especially when you have excessive moisture like this year, you have multiple landslides,” she said, referring to the occurrence as a natural phenomenon that is being monitored by geotechnical engineers.
Holwell said the landslide on Highway 14 is one of the more significant occurrences in the region. Another notable example is on Interstate 90 near Meade Creek.
“We are monitoring others throughout the district as well,” she said. “We’re trying to keep it as safe as possible for the traveling public and do what we need to do from there.”
Holwell indicated WYDOT road funds generally aren’t padded with resources for emergency situations like this.
“It could take a significant amount of time to repair this completely,” she said pointing to the example of a slide only a few miles away on the same road that was first noticed last year and is slated for repairs this spring and summer.
WYDOT crews have installed barrier walls near the bypass as an additional safety precaution and have reduced the speed limit to 30 miles per hour at the bypass site. Motorists are advised to use caution when traveling through the area.
“This detour will likely be in place for some time,” Holwell said.