Rock fall prevention in Utah's Canyons

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 - Utah) On average, the Utah Department of Transportation spends $200,000 each year cleaning up after rock falls. Crews also make weekly trips looking for potential hazards and how to prevent them.

Managing Utah's canyons for rock falls is an ongoing project.

"We're looking for rocks that are hanging over, or on a ledge that we think is gonna cause a hazard," said George Priskos, a Maintenance Supervisor for UDOT.

Priskos drives through the canyon's every week, but preventing rock falls and slides starts before the roads are even built

"We will drill holes and analyze the rock and perform analysis of the rock, so we can tell if there's a hazard for rock fall," said Jon Bischoff, a Geotechnical Engineer for UDOT. "There's always some rock up there ready to come out, we just don't know when or how."

That is why there are fences or mesh seen on the canyon walls.

"The wire mesh and the fencing is just to detour it It's nto gonna stop it," said Priskos. "It's just going to slow it down."

 Based on UDOT's rockfall analysis, they aim to only have 5% of rocks that fall cross the white lines on the road. All these efforts trying to mitigate a threat that changes every season, even every storm.

"When you get heavy rain, torrential rain, that water is going to rush down and it's going to take with it whatever it runs into," said Curtis Ray, Pinpoint Meteorologist.

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