New York State Local Technical Assistance Program

What should I do if there is a mud slide affecting my highway?

Beyond cleaning up the site and making sure drainage is repaired quickly to keep water from re-saturating the mud and causing it to slide again, you should look around and make sure the area is stable and will not slide again. Trees in the slide zone can be a great clue as to the type of slide. If still vertical, the whole slope may have shifted or the slide is localized through any trees. If tilted uphill, the slide may be a big circle failure and the toe or underlying layer may be moving. If titled downhill, the trees may have shifted when the slide stopped or the hillside may be pushing out (bulging). These are only clues and if trees are moving at all, a geotechnical engineer should be contacted as soon as possible. The NYSDOT has qualified engineers as well as some counties and most consulting firms. When in doubt, go ahead and get help to examine the slope. Failure to do so can be devastating.

start of a slide above a Town road with a tilting tree
Start of a slide above a Town road

Remember, just like the case with water, it is important that drivers do not drive into mud. The mud in many cases is still very wet and can trap vehicles and even trap folks in their cars. If the mud slides again, it will likely take the car with it. Also, if left in wet mud, once it dries it can be hard to extricate the car from the mud.

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This work by the Cornell Local Roads Program (CLRP) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.