Work begins on Wilson Canyon rockfall

Creek Drive in Fish Springs lives up to its name in this photo taken by resident Thor Teigen on Jan. 9.

Creek Drive in Fish Springs lives up to its name in this photo taken by resident Thor Teigen on Jan. 9.

Work is still ongoing to recover from the Jan. 9-10 storm that sent several thousand cubic yards of rock across the highway linking Smith and Mason valleys and closed Highway 395 through Mono County for nearly a week.

Today, the Nevada Department of Transportation is scheduled to begin work that will take weeks to clear 400 feet of Highway 208 through Wilson Canyon.

“Rockfall removal experts will first scale and remove remaining unstable rock to make the area safe for road repair work,” state transportation spokeswoman Meg Ragonese said. “Crews will then work 24-hours-a-day to remove several thousand cubic yards of rockfall which fell across the roadway and make any needed road surface repairs.”

On Wednesday, Mono County supervisors ratified a local emergency proclamation issued by Emergency Services Director Chris Mokracek on Jan. 10 when the storm closed the highway.

The storm “prevented emergency access, closed roads, stranded travelers, and exceeded the ability of Mono County Road and safety crews to respond.”

They weren’t alone.

Highway 395 closed south of Bridgeport for a week on Jan. 9, as California Department of Transportation crews battled snow and ice to clear a 75-mile stretch of the highway.

“These storms severely impacted our district with an intense, rapid accumulation of snow and rain,” said CalTrans Deputy District Director of Maintenance Terry Erlwein, “leading to avalanches, flooding, and rock and mudslides that affected roadways from Death Valley to the Nevada State Line on Highway 395. I want to thank every Caltrans crew member who contributed, whether they were driving a snowplow, managing an overnight closure point on the highway, or fielding information at our dispatch office. The collective effort of our entire maintenance team has made this reopening possible.”

A call center for residents to report nonemergency flooding was deactivated Wednesday. Established on Jan. 9 to report incidents of flooding which occurred as the wet warm storm melted the significant Carson Valley snow from the Tonopah low that struck over the New Year’s weekend.

Flooding was reported all along eastern Carson Valley Jan. 9-10.

Residents who want to alert the county to damage related to the storms may visit damage survey

Using the survey is not a replacement for filing an insurance claim but does give the county data to work with for the future.

A half-dozen atmospheric rivers brought record amounts of rain and snow to the Sierra Nevada since mid December.

Forecasters predict cold dry conditions into the beginning of February, which will ensure the snow melts slowly, reducing the possibility of flooding in the near future.


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