Barrasso Urges Forest Service to Expedite Teton Pass Road Repair

June 12, 2024

Click here to watch Senator Barrasso’s exchange with USFS official, Mr. Troy Heithecker.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In today’s Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee hearing, ranking member John Barrasso (R-WY) questioned Mr. Troy Heithecker, a U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Associate Deputy Chief, on the recent Teton Pass road collapse in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in Wyoming.

During the questioning, Senator Barrasso highlighted the severity of this road collapse and called for the road to be re-opened as quickly as possible:

“Last Friday, a segment of the Teton Pass Highway in Wyoming collapsed in a landslide… The landslide has cut off a crucial transit route between Victor, Idaho and Jackson Hole, Wyoming –one state to the other. Thousands of people from all walks of life use this road every day to commute to work…  These are the workers who keep the community in Jackson Hole thriving. They include healthcare workers at the hospital, school teachers, firefighters, rescuers, EMTs, paramedics, law enforcement officers, construction workers, restaurant and hotel staff, folks that are critical for the community. They also include employees of the U.S. Forest Service and Grand Teton National Park…

“I have been talking with the Wyoming Department of Transportation and our Governor and I know that the Department of Transportation is working with your agency, with the Forest Service, and with the Federal Highway Administration to reopen the pass back up to traffic as quickly as possible. We need the road to be safe and made open again as quickly as possible. So I was just asking if you could give us an update and tell us what your agency is doing to expedite the process of reopening Teton Pass?

In response, Mr. Heithecker outlined their efforts to work with Wyoming and Idaho authorities to re-open the Teton Pass Road. Heithecker said in part:  

“From the beginning we’ve been engaged with the Department of Transportation there and they’ve been really great to work with. Kudos to them. They are moving out extremely quick. We’ve helped them with some strategic planning, with some capacity efforts, engagement with local authorities, cooperation and damage assessments, and both districts, one on the Caribou-Targhee side over near Victor and the other in Jackson and the Bridger Teton [side] are both working on expediting and doing what we can to being part of the recovery and a bypass there.”

Senator Barrasso also questioned Mr. Heithecker on what the U.S. Forest Service is doing to expedite the construction of a bypass to help those impacted by the road collapse:

“We’re working with the Governor as you know, and he has declared an emergency and proposed a temporary bypass road on national forest land… Can you share with us what the Forest Service is doing to expedite the construction of this bypass road?

Mr. Heitecher responded by saying:

“To my understanding the highway itself is a DOT right of way, the land next to it is Forest Service, and my understanding after speaking with folks out there on the ground this week is that we are working to create a bypass. DOT is moving out on it and we are doing everything we can to expedite those processes while of course staying in compliance.”