Posted September 19, 2013
The closed area on Idaho State University’s Red Hill below the giant “I” has been expanded and construction of a safety barrier "fall fence" or wall below the "I" will begin soon.
"The University is moving as quickly as possible to address the safety concerns caused by the erosion of Red Hill below and around the 'I,'" said Arthur C. Vailas, ISU President. "We are asking for cooperation from the entire community to respect the trail closures and stay off the closed areas of Red Hill because of the safety risk."
A committee of ISU officials and community members reviewed three studies, including one by an independent registered engineering firm, that all concluded the "I" is a safety risk and immediate action is needed. The "I" is cracked, unstable and there is extensive erosion below, around and underneath it.
The closed area below the "I" will be expanded to include the closure of the lowest trail on Red Hill, which is a Pocatello Greenway trail that travels along the base of the hill. More comprehensive signage and temporary trail closure barriers will be put in place.
The construction of a safety barrier wall will begin as soon as studies are completed to determine the scale of the wall needed to stop rock or parts of the "I" that could potentially fall from further up the hill, said Phillip Moessner, associate vice president for ISU Facilities Services. This barrier will be constructed above the highest trail located below the "I."
The next step for addressing the Red Hill erosion problem after the safety barrier is constructed is stabilizing the area of Red Hill between that barrier and the "I." Either a berm or some structure needs to be put in place to prevent the "I" and surrounding hillside from sliding down the hill, according to Jim Mahar, a committee member from the ISU School of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Science and Engineering who reviewed the ISU Facilities Services study and the independent study. ISU will hire an independent engineering firm or firms to explore options for creating a retaining structure below the "I."
"Once safety issues on Red Hill have been resolved the committee will continue to explore options available for the 'I,'" said Kent Tingey, ISU Vice President for Advancement.