W.Y.D.O.T. Clearing Mudflow Near Yellowstone's East Gate | Big Horn Radio Network | Wyoming

W.Y.D.O.T. Clearing Mudflow Near Yellowstone’s East Gate

Written by on May 28, 2021

Yellowstone-bound travelers may find their way to the East Entrance slightly slower than usual, as W.Y.D.O.T. works to clean up a North Fork mudslide.

What’s likely to be the first big weekend in Yellowstone just got a bit more complicated. W.Y.D.O.T. announced “a pre-Memorial Day maintenance situation” after being informed of a large mud flow.

The mudflow was reported less than half a mile from Yellowstone’s East Gate. The exact spot is a narrow ravine named Unnamed Draw.

Images from the site show mud completely inundating the draw and surrounding the highway bridge.

A rented backhoe was dispatched to the location on Thursday. Over the next few days, road crews will clear the mud, and the bridge inspected for any damage.

North Fork mudflow

North Fork bridge mudflow

Courtesy WYDOT

W.Y.D.O.T. isn’t concerned about quickly clearing the muddy spot – they’ve been here before.

This spot on the North Fork Highway is notorious for large mudflows. The bridge spanning Unnamed Draw was built specifically to endure the force of the frequent flows and the ensuing blockages.

On W.Y.D.O.T.’s District Five website, a timeline of the specific area was presented.

  • 1996 – The current bridge is constructed to replace a box culvert due to frequent mudslides.
  • 2009 – The bridge undergoes its first repair and cleaning, with a precast concrete deck and girder replaced.
  • 2011 – A mudslide is documented on June 16, 2011. The area under the bridge is cleaned out that October
  • 2012 – The bridge undergoes a second repair, and debris deflectors are installed
  • 2018 – Multiple mudslides. The first was documented at about 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 27, with another mudslide sometime during the nighttime hours of Monday, May 28. On Tuesday, May 29, more sliding activity plugs the area under the bridge, and water begins flowing in the borrow pit. Maintenance personnel used a backhoe to open the bridge to allow water to drain to the river
  • 2021 – Another mudslide documented on May 26

WYDOT routine maintains this bridge every spring. Mud and other debris are cleared from the bridge’s underside when flows are “more routine.”

There’s no word on how long W.Y.D.O.T. will be working in the area nor how long the clearing will take. Any travelers along the North Fork Highway should expect minor traffic delays.

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