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15-foot-deep mudslide closes main route to popular Idaho mountain towns

Crews still clearing mudslide that closed Idaho 55

Construction crews with the Idaho Transportation Department were still working to clear Idaho 55 on Wednesday morning. The highway was closed after a mudslide between Banks and Smiths Ferry.
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Construction crews with the Idaho Transportation Department were still working to clear Idaho 55 on Wednesday morning. The highway was closed after a mudslide between Banks and Smiths Ferry.

A large mudslide has closed the Idaho highway that offers direct access to popular Idaho mountain areas, according to the Idaho Transportation Department.

Idaho 55, which connects the Treasure Valley north to McCall, Donnelly and Cascade, remained buried Wednesday morning under about 15 feet of rock, dirt and debris several miles north of Banks, according to the ITD 511 road report map.

On Tuesday, ITD spokesman Jake Melder said it will likely take “many hours” to clear the slide. Crews continued clearing the roadway on Wednesday morning. Melder said the slide occurred after rain saturated the hillside, causing erosion.

“We don’t know what the extent of the damage may or may not be,” Melder said Tuesday. “It’s an area that is prone to have activity ... with the way the highway is cut.”

Melder said a slide of this magnitude is still unusual for the area.

The popular recreation areas are still accessible via U.S. 95, which will take travelers up to New Meadows and south on the open portion of Idaho 55. The road report on Tuesday morning classified the road between New Meadows and McCall as “difficult” due to slush and other winter driving conditions.

The slide occurred north of Banks Lowman Road, which connects Idaho 55 to Idaho 21. It’s within a stretch of road that ITD plans to repair this spring.

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