Ferguson landslide

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Ferguson Slide

The Ferguson landslide, also commonly called the Ferguson Slide, is an active landslide in the Merced River canyon in the U.S. state of California which in 2006 blocked a primary access road to Yosemite National Park. The slide still blocked the original road as of early 2014, although temporary bridges allow one-way traffic around the slide and into the park. The slide is a natural phenomenon, and resulted from the erosion dynamics of the river valley.[1]

The slide began on April 29, 2006, and initially the highway remained open, with active monitoring and occasional temporary closures. By May 28, the road was closed permanently, stopping access to the park from Mariposa and severely impacting the local economy. Many park employees reside in Mariposa, and for several months a two-hour trip (one way) was required to get to work in the park. Revenue via the hospitality market dropped extensively, which included wages, profits to small business owners, and county government income from occupancy taxes. A State of Emergency was declared in June 2006 for Mariposa County.[1]

The downstream temporary bridge

Initially two temporary bridges were built in August 2006. While this detour alleviated a significant portion of the economic impact to the area, vehicles over 28 feet could not use it. In June 2008, new temporary bridges which could accommodate longer vehicles were constructed. The detour via the bridges is one-way, controlled by traffic lights. At the height of the tourist season, this has sometimes resulted in significant delays.[1]

The temporary bridges access a road grade, on the north side of the river, which is a vestige of the Yosemite Valley Railroad.

Repair of the highway was on permanent hold due to the encroachment of an endangered species into the slide area. In 2012, Assemblymember Kristin Olsen authored legislation that would allow the California Department of Fish and Game to do an initial take of the Limestone Salamander and place it in an Ecological Reserve. This piece of legislation paved the way to restoring this important access route to Yosemite. Assemblymember Olsen's AB 1973 passed both houses of the California State Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Brown on August 12, 2012. {http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov}[2]

In July 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1973, which mandated that the permanent reconstruction of Highway 140 could not include bridges over the river.[3] After considering the option of a tunnel, CalTrans settled on a rock shed design in 2014.[4]

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Attributions

Coordinates: 37°39′24″N 119°54′3″W / 37.65667°N 119.90083°W / 37.65667; -119.90083