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I-90 rockslide area remains closed through April

By Matt Gray, Meteorologist/Reporter, mgray@keci.com
Published On: Apr 07 2014 06:36:00 PM MDT
Updated On: Apr 07 2014 08:35:22 PM MDT

Landslide may keep westbound lanes shut for over a month

SALTESE, Mont. -

Officials with the Montana Department of Transportation say it will be at least a month before before the traffic lanes impacted by a landslide will be reopened.

The slide occurred on March 30 between Taft and Saltese on I-90, less than 10 miles from Lookout Pass.

Analysis of the landslide by geologists revealed a dangerous and unstable slope. The rubble from the initial slide is clear, the area is quiet, but the westbound lanes remain closed due to the danger of additional slides.

Streams of water burst from the slope. It's a sign that the area is still waterlogged and capable of another slide.

MDT remains in the planning stages. They hope to have a plan nailed down and a contractor to complete the work by the start of a new work week on April 14.

Two ideas remain for how to best remove the rock. The first proposal is for heavy machinery to climb up the mountain and push down the loose rock and mud. The second proposal accomplishes the same goal, but with explosives instead of excavators.

The area of two-lane traffic around the slide only stretches a mile and a half. Traffic is flowing smoothly for the most part. Commuters over the pass do note that it adds about 10 minutes to their travel each way.

Wide loads are still not allowed through the area and must divert through Thompson Falls and Sandpoint, ID.

However, it's the beginning of construction season in Montana. The lane closure blends right in.