Sunday, June 08, 2014

I feel the earth move, under my feet

When I was in Jackson a few weeks ago, I took some shots of a place that has been on the national news.  Then I forgot to post the photos.

We've all seen these signs as we drive along steep mountain roads.  They make it obvious that you can be hit by falling rock, but at 50 mph, it isn't clear exactly how you are supposed to react.  This is different though.  This is a few blocks outside of downtown Jackson, Wyoming.
People never seem content with the topographical lines that Mother Nature draws over the course of millennia.  We carve into hills and construct all sorts of buildings.  Here in Park City, if your building is going onto a slope of more than 30 percent, you have to get a Steep Slope Conditional Use Permit, which means it comes to me, your local Planning Commissioner.

In Jackson, they cut into the side of a hill for some houses.  They cut into the bottom of the hill to put in a Walgreens and a strip mall.   Then Mother Nature said "No, dammit!"  The hill has been sliding again and again, and with enough force to tear up the parking lot and rip a house in half.
They put up some heavy wire fencing and some retaining walls to stop the flow.  As you can see, Mother Nature said "I told you NO dammit!"
This is the view from the Walgreen's prescription drive through.  Needless to say, the Walgreens is closed.  The hill continues to slide, no matter what they try to do to slow it.  The excitement will happen if it slides enough to break a major water line that runs through the area.  They estimate that it will dump millions of gallons of water into downtown Jackson before it can be shut off.  At that point, the city will have lost 30% of its water source.

I wish I had taken a good closeup of the soil.  It looks like sandy crud mixed with loose gravel.  Not sure what certified engineer thought that would stay up on such a steep slope.  Not one for your engineering resume.

Here is a recent article giving an update and it has a nice photo of the home cheered in half.
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