North Cascades Highway to reopen Friday, May 11
DIABLO – Despite challenges with spring snow and avalanche conditions, State Route 20/North Cascade Highway is on track to reopen at 10 a.m. Friday, May 11.
Over the last several weeks, maintenance crews from the Washington State Department of Transportation have worked on opposite ends of the 37-mile closed section of road and will finally meet near Rainey Pass, Monday, May 7.
Beginning Tuesday, the avalanche team will clear remaining snow from chutes above the roadway. Additional work includes clearing snow from turnouts, cleaning ditches of debris and reinstalling signs and guardrail, before the gates swing open later this week.
Challenging spring conditions
Historically, clearing the highway takes about 4-6 weeks. This year it will take seven due to the soft snow and risky avalanche conditions. Often times chutes would dump snow onto portions of the road that were previously plowed. Although clearing took longer than usual, the gates are still opening in time for this weekend’s ‘49er Days in Winthrop.
Using the seasonal stretch
Opening this stretch of highway provides travelers another route across the Cascades, improves access to North Cascades National Park and reconnects US Bike Route 10 to eastern and western Washington.
This highway will remain open until avalanche danger forces its closure for the winter months, usually around Thanksgiving.