ISU Headlines

Idaho State University to build berm, remove “I” from Red Hill to address safety concerns; committee to create plan for “I” replacement

Posted February 26, 2014

Idaho State University officials announced that because of safety concerns the “I” on Red Hill will be removed and a safety berm will be built concurrently this spring.

Additionally, University officials emphasized that a committee of alumni, community members, ISU student representatives and ISU officials is working on how the popular icon might be replaced.

“The only reasonable approach to resolving the safety issues on Red Hill is to both remove the ‘I’ and build a berm,” said Phil Moessner, Associate Vice President for ISU Facilities Services. Red Hill

A series of three engineering studies completed last year concluded the “I” is a safety risk because it is cracked, unstable and there is extensive erosion below and around it. Because of that and other erosion issues on the hill, the trails were closed. The studies estimated that 50 percent of the “I” is compromised because of erosion. Safety risks include pieces of the “I” breaking off and the possibility of exposed boulders and other debris rolling down from the eroded hillside.

Initially, it was hoped that building the berm as a rock-fall barrier would protect trail users on Red Hill until there were completed plans for either fixing or replacing the “I.”

However, the outside engineering firm hired to study the “I” and also design the earth berm determined the berm is not suitable to withstand a complete catastrophic failure of the “I,” which could consist of large slabs of concrete falling from the hillside, Moessner said.

Furthermore, while studying the “I,” multiple options to remediate the existing structure were considered. It was concluded the structural condition of the “I” and the erosion underneath is such that it cannot feasibly be stabilized in-place and remediated. It was also concluded the existing structure would not tolerate relocation to a new area without breaking apart.

At the same time the University is making plans to improve the safety of the hillside and take down the “I,” it is also working with the community to find means for its replacement.

“We are working with our various constituents on developing a plan for the replacement of the structure and the means to generate the resources to construct a replacement icon.” said Kent Tingey, ISU Vice President for Advancement. “With the support of ISU, alumni, the Associated Students of ISU and the community, we can team up to replace this symbol with something equally suitable.”