Explosives used to clear SR 14 in Iron County after rockslide

Jun 21, 2023, 8:04 AM | Updated: Jun 22, 2023, 11:05 am

IRON COUNTY, Utah — State troopers and officials with the Utah Department of Transportation have reopened state Route 14 east of Cedar City after crews used explosives to help clear a rockslide that closed the road for much of the day.

“We had a wet week last week and that was likely a contributing factor,” said Tyler Knudsen, a senior geologist with the Utah Geological Survey. “It often takes time for that precipitation to kind of percolate and get down to where that slide plane it.”

Sgt. Cameron Roden with the Utah Highway Patrol said the slide occurred in Cedar Canyon early Wednesday morning between mileposts 7 and 8. When troopers arrived they found an active rockslide with boulders continuing to fall throughout the morning.

The slide forced the closure of eastbound lanes at milepost 5, while westbound lanes were closed at the S.R. 148 junction. Both directions reopened to traffic just after 4:30 in the afternoon.

The closure resulted in a detour for those traveling to Cedar Breaks National Monument and other popular recreation areas and cabin communities.

No injuries or damage to vehicles were reported.

Wednesday’s slide happened on the west end of a much larger landslide that occurred in 2011, according to UDOT spokesperson Kevin Kitchen.

UDOT geotechnical engineers arrived on the scene about midday to assess the slide-prone slope and determine if the roadway could reopen.

Other UDOT crews worked all day to remove the debris from the roadway. One boulder was so large that they had to use explosives to break it up.

Kitchen called the slide a significant event but nowhere near the magnitude of the 2011 landslide. He said further work will need to be done to remove some of the most recent slide from the hillside to reduce the stress on the slide plane.

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Explosives used to clear SR 14 in Iron County after rockslide