Landslide closes Nevada highway for months near Yerington

January 12, 2023 GMT

YERINGTON, Nev. (AP) — A 10-mile (16-kilometer) stretch of state highway in western Nevada along the West Walker River is expected remain closed for months after a huge landslide triggered by heavy rain covered the road southwest of Yerington with mud and rocks.

Nevada Department of Transportation officials say the rock and mudslide on Highway 208 in the Wilson Canyon between Yerington and Smith Valley occurred Tuesday night after the heaviest precipitation there in more than 100 years.

Debris covers about 400 feet (122 meters) of the highway.

“This is essentially an entire face of the roadside cliff that has come down, with not just boulders but earth as well,” NDOT Meg Ragonese told the Reno Gazette Journal.

The day after the slide, NDOT crews performed a preliminary evaluation of the area that showed the hillside remains unstable. NDOT will have to contract with professional rockfall engineers for the work.

Now, drivers looking to travel on paved roads between Yerington and Smith Valley must travel roughly two hours out of the way to get between the Lyon County seat and the rural farming community.

The highway is closed to through traffic from State Route 339 on the Yerington side to the east to Hudson Aurora Road on the Smith Valley to the west. Local traffic is allowed past those closures to access residences.

During heavy precipitation in 1997, the road washed out when the canyon flooded. There were no reported injuries in the slide, Ragonese said.

About 1,800 drivers pass through the canyon each day.