UPDATE: No estimated time for reopening Lookout Pass after four avalanches close westbound lanes
ST. REGIS, Montana — UPDATE: The Montana Transportation Department confirms there were four avalanche slides Wednesday afternoon, all near milepost 1 of Lookout Pass.
Those slides are all mostly cleared now, but officials are still concerned about a few other slopes potentially creating avalanche hazards. They are monitoring the conditions and are not able to say when I-90 will be reopened.
“We won’t reopen until we deem it safe. Traveler safety is our number one concern,” said Steve Felix, Missoula-area Maintenance Chief with the Montana Transportation Deptartment. “We are working hard. We don’t take these closures lightly.”
Felix said Thursday morning conditions are continously changing and they hope to see some stabilization soon, but again said MDT officials cannot commit to a timeframe for reopening.
Felix confirmed there were cars and trucks stuck on the top of the pass when it closed, but he says all of them have been safely led off. No one was injured.
As for drivers stuck in St. Regis, Feliz says there is no simple detour. Drivers can either travel north and drive through the Idaho pandhandle, or drive back to Missoula and take another highway from there.
An avalanche that fell around 3:00 p.m. Wednesday is still blocking the westbound lanes of I-90 over Lookout Pass in western Montana.
According to the Montana Dept. of Transportation, westbound traffic is blocked from St. Regis Pass (mile 33.5) to the Idaho/Montana border.
KXLY4 spoke with a driver who says he was stranded on the pass for more than six hours Wednesday afternoon. Larry Davis was on his way back to Spokane when the avalanche fell and closed the road.
Davis works for an automotive accessory distributing company. He was eventually able to turn his truck around using an opening in the median. He made it back to St. Regis where he’s now staying in a hotel room.
“I guess I’m lucky enough that I got turned around and I’m in a warm hotel room,” Davis wrote KXLY. “I feel for all those other people that are still out there.”
It’s not clear how many people are stranded on the pass. MTD has not provided an update on the work to clear the avalanche or announced a reopening time.
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