Repairs close scenic roads in Farmington, Huntsville

Apr 18 2012 - 10:14pm

Images

A rock slide is blocking the road into Farmington Canyon. It is closed to all vehicles and even foot traffic because of safety concerns and upcoming repair work. (Photo courtesy of Wasatch-Cache National Forest)
State Road 39, also known as the Monte Cristo Highway, is closed near Monte Cristo because of snow on the road Wednesday. Officials say the road will likely open earlier than usual this season -- probably before Memorial Day -- because of low snowfall. (MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner)
State Road 39, also known as the Monte Cristo Highway, is closed near Monte Cristo because of snow on the road Wednesday. Officials say the road will likely open earlier than usual this season -- probably before Memorial Day -- because of low snowfall. (MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner)
A rock slide is blocking the road into Farmington Canyon. It is closed to all vehicles and even foot traffic because of safety concerns and upcoming repair work. (Photo courtesy of Wasatch-Cache National Forest)
State Road 39, also known as the Monte Cristo Highway, is closed near Monte Cristo because of snow on the road Wednesday. Officials say the road will likely open earlier than usual this season -- probably before Memorial Day -- because of low snowfall. (MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner)
State Road 39, also known as the Monte Cristo Highway, is closed near Monte Cristo because of snow on the road Wednesday. Officials say the road will likely open earlier than usual this season -- probably before Memorial Day -- because of low snowfall. (MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner)

FARMINGTON -- Scenic nature drives might be hard to come by in the Top of Utah this summer.

U.S. Forest Service officials say Farmington Canyon Road will not be open until at least late fall, and Weber County officials say Old Snowbasin Road will remain closed for the immediate future.

Farmington Canyon Road provides access to Farmington Canyon, a destination northeast of Farmington city along Skyline Drive that's popular with outdoor enthusiasts.

The road has been closed since last May, when a rock slide covered a portion of it.

U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Kathy Jo Pollock said the Federal Highway Administration recently approved funding that will assist the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forests with the repair work.

"We don't know how much it will cost or exactly how long it will take to repair," Pollock said. "But within the next four months, the funding will be in place to begin the repairs, and during that time, designs for the work will be completed and contracts will be awarded."

Based on the geotechnical report, Pollock said, the slope the rock slide originated from has been declared unstable.

The hillside continues to move from steep slopes, and unstable subsurface conditions have created an active flow of debris. The wooden retaining wall on the downhill side of the road is failing because of age and the additional weight of the rock slide.

Pollock said it's unsafe for anyone, even hikers, to access the road, and citations for illegal travel will be issued. Such a citation can carry penalties from a $175 to $5,000 fine or up to six months in jail.

After seeing significant damage from last spring's rainstorms and flooding, Old Snowbasin Road in Huntsville is still closed, with no specific timetable for its reopening.

Lance Peterson, Weber County Emergency Management director, said the county just received $1.2 million from the FHWA to repair the road in several spots.

"We've got eight sites up there that need to be repaired," he said. "Right now, we're going through some of the financial paperwork, and we'll get it open as soon as we can."

An engineering and design study will be necessary to ensure the road is fixed properly, Peterson said.

"We want to get it fixed right. We don't want to be up there every year."

One mountain road that will likely open sooner than usual is the Monte Cristo Highway.

The road, which runs from Mile Marker 37 near Ant Flat Road east of Huntsville to Mile Marker 56 west of Woodruff, usually opens sometime around Memorial Day.

Utah Department of Transportation Region One spokesman Vic Saunders said so little snowfall has accumulated on the road this year that it will likely open before Memorial Day.

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