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Crews Respond To Multiple Slides In Big, Little Cottonwood Canyons

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah Department of Transportation road crews and Unified Police units had their hands full Wednesday as they responded to at least a handful of rock and mudslides in Big and Little Cottonwood canyons.

Jake Brown, UDOT roadway operations manager for the canyons, said workers started their day at 3:00 a.m. in Little Cottonwood Canyon and were busy well into the dinner hour in the Stairs Gulch area of Big Cottonwood Canyon as they reinforced the road and cleared debris.

“Basically the culvert filled up completely with rock,” Brown said. “What you’re seeing is the river just going over the roadway and going back into the river.”

Police only stopped traffic intermittently.

“It makes me a little nervous, you know,” said Unified Police Sergeant Ed Twohill as he directed traffic and looked at all the rocks left behind by the water.

He feared similar situations may arise before winter strikes.

Brown said the amount of debris that had to be moved was impressive.

“It holds 18 tons,” Brown said, referencing one of the vehicles UDOT brought to the scene. “We’ve loaded it eight times with debris on the roadway and dumped it.”

Police and road crews said they planned to monitor overnight and would clean up again in the morning if any additional debris surfaced.

“(When) Mother Nature wants the road closed, she closes the road,” Brown said. “We just have to deal with what she throws at us.”

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