Idaho re-opens Highway 12 as avalanche threat eases
The major cross-state route through Central Idaho has been re-opened, two days after the road was closed because of the threat of avalanches off the steep mountainsides west of Lolo Pass.
The Idaho Department of Transportation had closed U.S. 12 for a stretch of several miles east of Kooskia and miles west of the Idaho-Montana border the day after Christmas when the avalanche danger climbed to "very high" levels.
That section of the highway goes through the narrow, and very steep canyon along the Lochsa River, where the mountains tower hundreds of feet directly over the road. Because there's no formal avalanche control along the route, IDT has been known to close the road to all traffic as a precaution.
A slide in that same area back in January sent snow and other debris cascading down on the road, forcing U.S. 12 to be closed for 4 days until crews could clear away the slide.
This time, the road had been closed at the gate at Fish Creek, at milepost 126, and Saddle Camp Road on the eastern end at milepost 139.
At mid-day Wednesday, IDT announced it was lifting the restriction because of the changing conditions, as warm temperatures and rains had passed. However, the agency was still warning that driving the road is challenging west of Lolo Pass, with snow-packed roads and heavy snow in the area.
Further south, the highway connecting Stanley, Idaho, and Boise remains closed because of the threat of slides.