4,000-ton rockslide closes Yosemite road

Four thousand tons of rock fell 600 feet onto a road in California's Yosemite National Park on Monday. Park officials said Wednesday that the El Portal Road entrance to the park will be closed indefinitely. Photo courtesy of National Park Service

June 14 (UPI) — A rockslide deposited 4,000 tons of debris on a Yosemite National Park entrance road, which will be indefinitely closed, the National Park Service said.

The Arch Rock entrance to the California park will be closed at least through the upcoming weekend, park spokesman Scott Gediman said in a statement Wednesday. Two other entrance roads remain open while El Portal Road, a continuation through the park of state Highway 140, is closed.

Officials said that about 150 feet of roadway is covered in 15 feet to 20 feet of debris after the rockslide occurred Monday. The rockfall began on a cliff about 600 feet above El Portal Road. A slab of rock, approximately 50-by-80-by-15 feet in size, detached from the cliff and broke into pieces as it struck a ledge and fell onto the road. The rock debris fragmented as it struck the pavement, spraying in all directions for about 1,000 feet, the statement said.

Most of the pieces landed on the roadway, the largest weighing about 130 tons, and in the adjacent Merced River. No injuries were reported.

“The rockfall caused damage to the road, associated guard rail, and related infrastructure,” the national park officials said in a statement. It added that the area was not safe to access.

A damage assessment is underway. Crews will then begin to remove the rock and repair the road.


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