OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) — Ogden River Scenic Byway SR-39 is open again to one-way traffic with a traffic signal after Ogden River washed out under the road just east of the iconic waterfall.
Crews with UDOT spent Thursday afternoon dropping boulders into Ogden River near mile marker nine on SR-39. They were doing this to prevent additional erosion.
“It’s usually pretty nice when the road’s not like this,” chuckled Myles Flink who lives in the canyon. At this time, only he, and other canyon residents are allowed to use Canyon Rd.
So, what happened? UDOT spokesperson Mitch Shaw explained, “All this rushing water down here from the Ogden River has essentially created a void underneath the roadway.” Shaw told ABC4 that UDOT has been monitoring the road throughout the canyon for weeks because the river has been running so high.
“Honestly, it wasn’t too big of a hassle for me to get down past all this, but I mean, the road is washed away pretty good,” stated Flink.
Shaw said one watchful crew member may have prevented disaster when they spotted something that didn’t look right.
“The roadway was intact,” said Shaw. “The surface of the roadway was still there. If you were driving on it, you wouldn’t have been able to tell anything. There was a void where there was essentially a gap where between the top surface of the roadway and the land that supports it underneath.”
Crews had to open up the road to see how bad the damage was. Think of it like a tooth cavity. It is drilled so that the extent of the cavity (or gap in the earth) is revealed. Once that was done, crews began filling the cap with boulders and other materials.
However, this was just a temporary fix. Shaw said the water is still too high and fast-moving for full-blown construction to take place. He added: “It could have been a lot worse. We’re really glad that our crews were able to catch it.”
For now, Weber County Sheriff’s Office reported that they will be monitoring the conditions for the next several days before opening the road to two-way traffic.
For crews and canyon residents alike, it’s just another sign of a record-breaking winter. “I’ve been sandbagging for the last month up there,” stated Flink.