There was a prehistoric slide near Savage's Trading Post. The so-called Ferguson Slide had caused problems in the past, and Caltrans had been looking to stabilize it, but in 2006 it overwhelmed the mitigation efforts and gave way, covering 600 feet of Highway 140 with hundreds of thousands of tons of metamorphic rock. The highway was totally blocked, and there were serious fears that the slide could completely block the river valley and flood the small village upstream.
Local communities, especially Mariposa, were devastated by the Ferguson Slide. Tourism makes up a huge portion of their economy, and with the highway closed, no one was coming through town. The first temporary fix, two quickly built bridges that detoured around the slide, were impassable to buses. Mariposa continued to suffer economic losses, so by 2008 the bridges were realigned. At present there are are delays of up to 15 minutes waiting for traffic to pass the one-way road.
in the newspaper last week ("newspaper": a form of information transfer that predates the internet), but work has begun on a "permanent" fix on the section of Highway 140 beneath the slide. The first part will involve the removal of more than 100,000 cubic yards of slide debris, followed by the construction of a 750-foot "rock shed" that will channel future debris slides over and across the highway. I've seen snow sheds before on many alpine passes, but this will be only the second rock shed in the country according to Caltrans. The project will cost $133 million and will be completed in fall 2019. The work is not expected to block traffic, as the "temporary" detour will remain open.
I understand that the rock shed approach will be one of the least environmentally intrusive approaches to mitigating the slide (assuming it's done right), but I'm struck by the fact that this one road repair will be only slightly less expensive than the complete renovation of Yosemite's infrastructure following the devastating floods of 1997 ($182 million in 1997 dollars). And it's been nearly twenty years since those renovations, and Congress has never been one to keep up with the care of our national parks. It would be nice if we could take care of our parks as well as we care for the access to those parks.