OGDEN — A strip of road alongside Pineview Dam that is especially prone to potentially deadly rock falls will be moved to better protect drivers.
A 150-pound boulder crashed through a pickup truck’s windshield Dec. 15, 2018, critically injuring the driver, on a section of State Road 158 just to the east of the dam spillway.
The Utah Department of Transportation has a project in the design phase and it may be released for bids in the spring, UDOT spokesman Vic Saunders in Ogden said.
“We will move the roadway further away from the canyon wall, further toward the reservoir,” Saunders said. “We have some space where the problem is most acute.”
The project also will include a barrier to stop more rocks from reaching the road, Saunders said.
The 57-year-old Layton man injured in the 2018 incident recovered, but the potentially deadly boulder fall sparked debate about possible remedies. The Ogden Canyon mountainside above the road is owned by the federal government.
The Weber County Sheriff’s Office reported the driver was struck in the face and torso by the boulder after it plunged through the windshield. He was knocked unconscious and the truck crashed.
“There have been many discussions since that incident,” Saunders said.
He said UDOT has allocated $1.2 million for shoulder improvement work from the SR 158 junction with SR 39 at the Pineview spillway to 3100 North near the Eden crossroads.
The costs of the road realignment near the spillway, about a tenth of a mile, will be drawn from that fund, Saunders said.
Loyal Clark, spokeswoman for the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in South Jordan, said the Forest Service will work with UDOT as the project progresses.
A report commissioned after the 2018 incident identified 13 high-hazard rockfall zones in Ogden Canyon that may deserve prevention work.
Installing rockfall mesh drapery and realigning the road five feet to the south at the spillway trouble spot would eliminate the danger on most of the dangerous section and would cost $1.1 million, the report said.
The report suggested a closer look be given to greater dangers close by.
“Any evaluation of rockfall hazard at SR 158 near Pineview Dam should consider several nearby sites with similar or even higher associated rockfall hazards,” the report said.
UDOT’s rockfall risk database, developed by Utah State University, includes about 1,100 sites statewide.
Starting with the Pineview site, there are 13 high-hazard sites on the seven-mile stretch of SR 39 between the dam and west to the mouth of Ogden Canyon, according to the geotechnical report.