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Jackson's Slow-Moving Landslide Accelerates

Rebecca Huntington

A slow-moving landslide in Jackson has started accelerating, blocking off the area's only access road and undermining options for stabilization.

Crews stopped work Thursday on an emergency buttress designed to slow down the slide. Officials decided it was no longer safe to work beneath a cut slope that kept releasing gravel slides, and pulled workers off the job. The only access road to the hillside has become impassable.

The Town has hired landslide expert George Machan, who gave an update today.

"A couple of days ago the movement had increased to roughly four to six inches per day, and yesterday we had movements in the order of a foot, and that's throughout the slide," he said. 

The hope was that building a huge berm of fill material would create a counterbalance to the slide by creating pressure at the base, or toe of the slide. Although trucks can no longer deliver fill material, Machan said natural forces are building up the berm.

"As the rock material falls off that face, it's creating a toe that's adding some load more at the toe than at the top. That could be a fairly slow process, but that's what nature does," he said.

Already, the slide has destroyed a newly built town pumphouse, although crews salvaged what technical equipment they could. Lower Valley Energy has shut off gas to the western side of the hillside neighborhood as a safety precaution.

Frequent updates and a live video feed of the affected area are available online at the town's website, townofjackson.com.

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