Rockslide damages road, railroad tracks
by Steve Kadel
staff writer
Nov 08, 2012 | 2314 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
45 rockslide
A section of railroad track on SR 279 near the Intrepid Potash plant is twisted and destroyed after boulders and debris from a large rockslide that hit the tracks and the highway early Monday morning. Photo by Zane Taylor
view slideshow (2 images)
A rockslide on state Route 279 about 20 miles west of Moab on Monday closed one lane of the road for seven hours and caused an undetermined amount of damage to the railroad tracks. The rockslide also interrupted product shipments for a nearby industrial plant.

No one was injured in the rockslide, which apparently happened in the early morning hours of Nov. 5, officials said.

Mike Randall of the Utah Department of Transportation said a large boulder hit the pavement and gouged a 6-foot-deep trench that was about 20 feet wide. The boulder bounced off the road before coming to rest on the road shoulder.

That large rock was followed by smaller debris – some of it measuring 6-feet by 8-feet by 8-feet – that covered the original hole created by the boulder, according to Randall.

“There was some very large stuff coming down,” he said.

The cause of the rockslide has not been determined.

A four-person UDOT crew had both lanes of SR 279 open by 4 p.m. on Monday. Randall said crew members applied cold-mix asphalt, which will serve as a temporary fix until permanent repairs can be made in the spring.

However, the nearby Intrepid Potash mine is still feeling the effects. About 100 yards of railroad track on Intrepid’s property was damaged or destroyed, which will prevent train shipments on Sunday, Nov. 11, and possibly the following Sunday, said Rick York, general manager of the company’s Utah division.

Rocks also landed on two railroad switches, badly damaging one of them, he said. York did not know Tuesday how much it will cost to repair the switches and track.

“We’ve had mudslides before, but never a rock fall like this,” York said. “This was a biggie.”

Intrepid Potash ships its commercial potash fertilizer product by rail on Sundays and uses trucks for other shipments. York said shipping is split about 50-50 between the two methods.

The slide did not curtail plant operations on Monday, he said.

Randall of UDOT was philosophical about the damage.

“There are rockslides in this area,” he said. “That’s part of the beauty of living here.”

Copyright 2013 The Times-Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

report abuse...

Express yourself:

We're glad to give readers a forum to express their points of view on issues important to this community. That forum is the “Letters to the Editor.” Letters to the editor may be submitted directly to The Times-Independent through this link and will be published in the print edition of the newspaper. All letters must be the original work of the letter writer – form letters will not be accepted. All letters must include the actual first and last name of the letter writer, the writer’s address, city and state and telephone number. Anonymous letters will not be accepted.

Letters may not exceed 400 words in length, must be regarding issues of general interest to the community, and may not include personal attacks, offensive language, ethnic or racial slurs, or attacks on personal or religious beliefs. Letters should focus on a single issue. Letters that proselytize or focus on theological debates will not be published. During political campaigns, The Times-Independent will not publish letters supporting or opposing any local candidate. Thank you letters are generally not accepted for publication unless the letter has a public purpose. Thank you letters dealing with private matters that compliment or complain about a business or individual will not be published. Nor will letters listing the names of individuals and/or businesses that supported a cause or event. Thank you letters about good Samaritan acts will be considered at the discretion of the newspaper.