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Author Topic: WYO 22 - Teton Pass Tunnel  (Read 1894 times)

andy3175

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WYO 22 - Teton Pass Tunnel
« on: April 18, 2016, 12:20:32 AM »

Evidently a tunnel has been proposed in the past few years for WYO 22 at Teton Pass (connecting Victor, Idaho, with Jackson, Wyoming), but it has been determined infeasible primarily due to cost and financing considerations along with technical considerations for active faults, known earthquakes, and geothermal activity. WYO 22 passes through alpine terrain that frequently sees winter storms; due to its location, no easy alternate routes exist (other that US 26 around the southern edge of the mountains). The 1.4-mile proposed tunnel was estimated to cost $260M to construct and $500k to maintain annually according to the Jackson Hole News and Guide (see http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/news/top_stories/wydot-says-no-to-teton-tunnel/article_1bdea840-51d1-5d2a-a7e4-55d00a8f5e59.html). I was unaware of such a proposal for a tunnel, but having been up and down WYO 22 many times, a tunnel would be a benefit if it were affordable, but that does not appear likely. So just to bring everyone else up to speed, here are some relevant points from some articles from 2013 and 2015:

Teton Pass Tunnel Feasibility Study from 2013
http://www.tetonvalleynews.net/teton-pass-tunnel-feasibility-study/pdf_cb45fd26-8115-11e2-8de5-001a4bcf887a.html

Teton Valley News Article 2013
http://www.tetonvalleynews.net/news/teton-pass-tunnel-idea-resurfaces/article_058aabae-15e2-11e5-908f-678b2f58665a.html

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The idea of building a tunnel through the mountains under Teton Pass has been floating around, according to Kelly Park, “since I was just a regular redneck,” he said. Since entering office as a Teton County Idaho Commissioner, it’s been one thing he’s advocated for, because, he explained, it would be an economic benefit to Teton County, Idaho as well as Teton County, Wyoming.

But Park will have to remain a cheerleader for the concept after a feasibility study from the Wyoming Department of Transportation was recently released that concluded the costs and many variables that were unknown were too great to “justify the continued investigation of constructing a tunnel through Teton Pass,” the study stated.

State Highway 22 in Wyoming traverses the Teton Mountain Range and connects the communities of Wilson, Wyoming and Victor, Idaho.

“I think it would bring the communities together, almost like one Teton County,” said Park. “I’d love to see it happen.” ...

Park said he would be supportive of paying a toll. He said the tunnel made sense to him because of the economic benefits and increase for safety. He said residents could save time and money with a shorter commute to Jackson for commerce, rather than driving to Rexburg or Idaho Falls. He said the pass becomes the “Jackson 500” during certain times of day and can be scary and intimidating to driver over for some people. He said it would also be a benefit for the trucking industry. In the winter tractor-trailers are prohibited on the Pass.

Teton Valley News Article 2015
http://www.tetonvalleynews.net/news/teton-pass-tunnel-idea-resurfaces/article_058aabae-15e2-11e5-908f-678b2f58665a.html

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(A) study conducted by the Wyoming Department of Transportation in 2013 said several factors made the (WYO 22 Teton Pass Tunnel) project unfeasible. “From a financial standpoint, there are many obstacles to consider, including overall cost, private investment feasibility, ability to obtain bonding capacity, required legislative changes, and individual cost per vehicle to use the facility,” the study team wrote. “At this time the costs are too high and there are too many variables and unknowns to justify the continued investigation of constructing a tunnel through Teton Pass.”

The tunnel idea, however, has remained. Several routes were proposed, and the study team evaluated one of them closely.

“The most desirable alignment would ultimately be the shortest possible route that would still bypass the most hazardous areas of Teton Pass,” the study reads. “Taking this into consideration, the selected alignment that will be studied in this report will depart the existing alignment east of, and prior to, the Glory Bowl slide area, and rejoin the highway at the switchback at milepost 11.6.”

The version studied—a two-lane tube 40 feet wide and 15 feet tall at 1.4 miles long— carried an estimated cost of $35,000 per linear foot, or $260 million total. That cost would vary widely depending on the tunnel’s location, and would not take into account access roads and highway reroutes.

The WYDOT study projected that the tunnel’s cost would equal the department’s entire operating budget for one year. Plus, Wyoming state law would have to be altered to accommodate for a toll facility. ...

Teton County Commissioner Kelly Park said he’s always been a fan of the tunnel idea, and that options for housing and commerce would increase for both sides of the project. Plus, he said, wintertime travel and accidents would be cut. “There sure are a lot of factors that go into the deal,” he said.

Park said it was likely that, though the technology to build the tunnel exists, the cost might be too much for people to handle. But, he said, if 1,200 or 2,000 cars go through each day, he wonders how long it would take for a toll to pay off the construction cost.

“It might take at least 10 years to pay it off, but then it starts making money,” he said. “It would be huge.”
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Andy

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Max Rockatansky

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Re: WYO 22 - Teton Pass Tunnel
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2016, 08:32:45 AM »

Personally I'd love to see it.  Teton Pass is a miserable drive, especially during tourist season.  It's like you said the road is iffy at best with weather at 8,400 feet and I don't recall the exact grade but it's pretty steep.

Rothman

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Re: WYO 22 - Teton Pass Tunnel
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2016, 09:21:49 AM »

I attended Ricks and my ancestors settled Driggs. 

One word:  Boondoggle.
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Please note: All comments here represent my own personal opinion and do not reflect the official position(s) of NYSDOT.

andy3175

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Re: WYO 22 - Teton Pass Tunnel
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2016, 02:21:23 AM »

Notably, a recent avalanche on December 15, 2016, closed WYO 22 for a period of time.

http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/news/cops_courts/no-criminal-charges-in-avalanche-on-pass/article_bede9efa-1864-57e8-b082-32e530a9ccd7.html

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Despite initial suspicion that skiers may have been responsible for the large slide that hit a vehicle and closed Highway 22 to thousands of commuters, investigators are no longer sure.

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Skiers who came forward cooperated with police, showed them what routes they skied and even helped probe in the aftermath, officials said. They helped make sure no one was caught in the 20-foot-deep mass before Wyoming Department of Transportation workers cleared it away with heavy equipment.

“When I got to the bottom I saw the debris and the people and the vehicles and the slide,” skier Jeff Bjornsen said. “I tried to help best I could.

“I put my transceiver on receive and checked for any other skiers,” he said.

Bjornsen was skiing by himself between Glory and Twin Slides just before the avalanche. He said he has skied the pass since the 1970s and thinks infrastructure could make the highway safer for motorists.

“It’s a little frustrating to me that WYDOT wants to point fingers,” Bjornsen said. “They want to blame someone when we should be looking for a solution.”

Bjornsen and other Teton Pass skiers see a solution in snow sheds — tunnel-like structures that could protect the highway where it runs beneath avalanche paths.

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WYDOT has explored the snow shed idea in the past but has never acted on it.

The most recent study, in 2011, showed it would cost $20 million to put sheds along the highway underneath Glory and Lower Twin Slides, according to WYDOT Avalanche Technician Jamie Yount.

“It would probably be more now,” Yount said.

The state doesn’t have that kind of cash for a project like that, WYDOT District 3 Maintenance Engineer Tory Thomas said.

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Thursday’s slide left 20 feet of snow on Highway 22 and many drivers stuck, unable to commute home around 5 p.m.

Some of them crashed on friends’ couches or paid for hotel rooms, and others took a long detour through the Snake River canyon and over Pine Creek Pass to get home, adding an hour and a half to their normal commute.

The man whose Jeep was caught in the slide climbed out of his vehicle and was treated for minor injuries at St. John’s Medical Center.

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A study might provide the information to adequately design snow sheds for Teton Pass.

“It’d be like designing a tunnel up through there,” Wyoming Department of Transportation District 3 Engineer Keith Compton said. “What kind of loads do you design the structure for? In this state we haven’t built anything like that.”

But Teton Pass has all the ingredients for frequent avalanches, Pistono said.
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Andy

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Quillz

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Re: WYO 22 - Teton Pass Tunnel
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2017, 01:13:15 AM »

I went to the Jackson Hole area two summers past, and used WY-22. This was in late June, so I don't know if that was peak tourist season, but I don't recall the road being either particularly poor quality or overly crowded. Not to mention WY-22 is a scenic route, which a tunnel might spoil.

But of course, I don't live there. I have not experienced the highway in fall or winter and don't know how backed up with traffic it can get.
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sparker

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Re: WYO 22 - Teton Pass Tunnel
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2017, 09:18:46 PM »

WY 22/ID 33 is a nice scenic alternative from Jackson to western Idaho -- but that's about all it is.  Even the ID 31 cutoff doesn't save more than marginal mileage over an all-US 26 route to Idaho Falls.  The last time I used that route, it seemed like I passed all of 10-15 vehicles between US 26/89 and Driggs (and that was in summer!).  The difficulty and expense of deploying a tunnel under Teton Pass is hardly warranted.
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