Rock fall danger closes on-ramp to Provo Canyon
OREM, Utah — A rockslide and unstable rock face has forced the closure of the on-ramp to Provo Canyon from 800 North.
The canyon itself is open, but motorists can’t enter onto U.S. 189 from 800 North and are directed to take a detour.
“We began to see rock — just right here at the mouth of the canyon — falling onto the roadway,” said UDOT spokesperson Geoff Dupaix. “Some as big as two to three feet in diameter.”
Crews noticed the pile of rocks on the road last Friday and immediately closed the entrance ramp. They then used a snowplow to clear the debris from the roadway.
“Rocks can fall at any time and it’s the unpredictable nature of things, those types of conditions, as to why we’ve got the road closed,” Dupaix said.
🚨Driver Alert: Due to a high risk of falling rocks in the area, the overpass from 800 N in @Orem_City to US-189 at the mouth of Provo Cyn will remain closed through next week. Alternate routes are available to connect to US-189. @UtahDOT @UTHighwayPatrol @UDOTTRAFFIC @provocity pic.twitter.com/Ab9PIaBLoM
— UDOT Region Three (@UDOTRegionthree) March 17, 2023
Fortunately, UDOT said there were no reports of cars being hit by the falling rocks.
Above the slide, crews noticed a concerning, undercut section on the rock wall.
“A 30- to 40-foot section that’s at risk of coming down,” Dupaix said.
The closure is expected to last this weekend and all of next week while UDOT hires a specialized contractor to drill out the unsafe section.
If you travel up the canyon from Utah Valley, UDOT recommends using Orem Center Street and University Avenue instead of 800 North so that you don’t have to detour.
The rock fall is just the latest in a series of weather-caused issues in the canyon this winter from all of the rain and snow.
“It’s kind of like Mother Nature’s chisel where you get that freeze and that thaw,” Dupaix explained. “That water gets into those various cracks in the rock, and as it freezes, it expands.”
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