The "I" on Red Hill will be removed and a safety berm built this spring, Idaho State University announced Wednesday.
The "I" has been there for 100 years.
The university cited safety concerns as the reason for the letter's removal. The "I" is cracked, unstable and there is extensive erosion below and around it, according to three engineering studies last year. ISU said pieces of the "I" could break off, and exposed boulders and other debris could roll down the eroded hillside. These issues caused the nearby trails to close.
The university said it had hoped that building a 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, an engineering firm hired to study the letter and design the earth berm said it would not be able to withstand the "I" completely failing, which could mean large slabs of concrete falling down the hill.
"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.
Studies also show the "I" is beyond repair and cannot be moved without breaking apart.
The university said a committee of alumni, community members, ISU student representatives and ISU officials are working on how the popular icon might be replaced.