LEWISTON — The Idaho Transportation Department opened U.S. Highway 95 at Fiddle Creek to two lanes of traffic at 6 p.m. Sunday, following a mudslide that had blocked the road for nearly 24 hours.
Megan Sausser, spokeswoman for the department, said crews had been working around the clock to clear mud and debris from the roadside and make sure the creek would not overflow its banks again.
Speed has been reduced to 45 miles per hour around the mudslide zone at milepost 200, Sausser said. Drivers are asked to be cautious around the shoulders of the roadway, and the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office will be patrolling the zone.
The Fiddle Creek area, along with six to eight other sections of the highway just north of the Time Zone Bridge at Riggins, was inundated following heavy rain and hail Friday night, overflowing the banks and spilling mud, boulders and debris onto the highway. Sausser said earlier the mudslide at Fiddle Creek was about 200 feet long and 4 feet deep.
Through traffic was halted at New Meadows and Lake Road six miles south of Grangeville.
Jim Rupp, owner of the Fiddle Creek Fruit and Hardware Store, reported Saturday that the mudslide destroyed much of his fruit crop and he feared missing a few calves and pigs. No other injuries were reported from the incident.
Road crews were called out Friday night but were delayed working on the slide until downed power lines could be repaired. The roadway was open to one-lane traffic about 7 p.m. Saturday, and Sausser said the crews had been working 24/7 to open the second lane of Idaho’s only north-south arterial.
The only alternate routes from north to south Idaho are through Pendleton, Ore., to the west and the Grangeville-Salmon Road through the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest.
Kathy Hedberg may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 983-2326.