BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah (ABC4) – While last night’s rainstorm caused flooding statewide, it also triggered multiple rockslides to hit Big and Little Cottonwood canyons — and these storms can cause damage to the road.
Debris covered the road after heavy rainfall triggered the slides, and it caused several road closures Sunday evening.
“We had large-scale debris come clear across the lane and block all lanes of traffic,” said Jake Brown, the roadway operations manager for the Cottonwood canyons.
“We’re going to be clearing out the culverts up there, digging those out and making sure they’re able to pass the water through again, without any problems,” said John Gleason, a spokesperson for the Utah Department of Transportation.
The mess caused delays for drivers.
“We got people turned around – thank goodness Guardsman’s Pass didn’t have any problems, we were able to send people out through Park City,” Brown said.
Clean-up efforts continued into Monday afternoon. Gleason said these types of storms most often cause damage to the side of the road.
“You can have erosion happening, you could have parts of it wash out, and then in the most extreme conditions, you can have entire bits of road that are washed away as well,” he said.
And when storms being large volumes of water, Gleason said “it can overwhelm the storm drains, and really clog those up and that can mean standing water on the roads.”
When water collects on the road, Gleason said it can be a danger to drivers.
“If there’s even just a couple of inches of standing water out there, if you try to brake and you’re in that pool of water there, your car could slide, it could hydroplane, and that could cause crashes,” he said.
This is not the first time a rockslide has damaged canyon roads; Gleason recalls about two years ago, a severe storm caused road damage in Little Cottonwood Canyon.