Rockfall events have significantly impacted traffic conditions on I-80. I-80 has been fully closed at least three times within the past 15 years due to major rockfall events. Additional traffic slowdowns or partial closures have also occurred as a result of the poor conditions associated with the deteriorated rock slopes along this segment of I-80.
Environmental impacts associated with the rock formations have also caused hazardous conditions for motorists. The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Regional Maintenance records have documented serious traffic impacts from icing conditions on four occasions. Additionally, roadway flooding has also obstructed the highway in four separate and unrelated cases. Another five incidents were attributed to vegetation and trees falling from the rock formation,blocking the roadway or shoulder.
A total of 25 incidents directly related to rockfall activity have been documented over a 17-year period from 2001 to 2017. Eleven incidents were identified that resulted in 14 motor vehicle crashes caused by rockfall.The majority of rockfall-related motor vehicle collisions involved a single vehicle with one incident involving two vehicles that resulted in one fatality and one minor injury.
In addition, regional maintenance staff have confirmed that they regularly pick up fallen rock material on a weekly basis along the I-80 project location. The standard operation consists of a “rolling closure” configuration. This work is not tracked in any formalized fashion at the maintenance yard.