New Walgreens evacuated on landslide concerns

JACKSON – Jackson’s new Walgreens store has been evacuated due to landslide concerns on the steep excavated slope behind it.

The Teton County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday said that the new store was closing up shop “until further notice” after officials discussed concerns with the town of Jackson and the Wyoming Department of Transportation. The sheriff’s office referred to Walgreens officials as “cooperative throughout this process.”

“We believe they are making the right decision at this time and thank them for acting so promptly,” Town Manager Bob McLaurin said in a statement. “Until we have a better handle on stabilizing the slope, this makes the most sense.”

Adjacent to Walgreens, one parking area has also been closed for Sidewinders American Grill as a precaution. The restaurant and sports bar remains open via western entrances.

A water main broke in the area April 6 after a “hillside movement” caused the town’s pump station at the northwest corner of Budge Drive and West Broadway Avenue to “shift.” Crews addressed the situation by jackhammering through about 18 inches of concrete to repair the leak.

“The site shows accelerated movement resulting in a higher level of concern for town officials,” the sheriff’s release read. This means large eroded fissures opening up on the slope. And at the base of the hill, roads are making way for the shifting hillside. The parking behind Walgreens has raised several inches in some places along with parts of Budge Drive. One gutter curb has even separated several inches away from the earth it abutted while the road spills up and over the lower portion.

Public works crews working on the road will aid with traffic direction during the evacuation advisory should residents choose to leave as soon as possible. At 2:28 p.m. Wednesday, the town through its emergency management system put out an evacuation advisory for all properties accessed via Budge Drive – a short road that switchbacks up the butte behind Walgreens to a small residential area. The advisory lists “the instability of the hillside in this area” as its reason for the possible evacuation, and warns that an evacuation order could be handed down at any time. Lower Valley Energy has cut off utilities to the two housing units above Walgreens.

For now, police officers will be warning residents of the potential danger by going door-to-door in the affected area.

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