DIABLO- With the rev of some engines and the swing of the gate, State Route 20/North Cascades Highway has reopened for 2017. Opening for the upcoming summer season not only provides drivers another option to cross the Cascades but reconnects US Bike Route 10 between Skagit and Okanogan counties.
Washington State Department of Transportation crews were able to speed up the projected eight week reopening with a little help from mother nature. Spring rain helped melt some areas of snow and WSDOT crews worked long days to clear more than 45 feet of snow from below Liberty Bell Mountain and more than 20 feet in many other avalanche chute areas.
Todays 11 a.m. opening allowed crews to do a final sweep of the highway to remove remaining debris. All travelers should be aware that this route is a scenic byway that features jagged glaciated peaks, high elevations, two lanes and sharp turns. All travelers should be prepared for quickly changing conditions and limited facilities between Diablo and Mazama.
Other SR 20 construction
Travelers heading to the North Cascades Highway from Interstate 5 should be prepared for weekday daytime work between Sedro-Woolley and Concrete. Contractor crews from Granite Construction are currently working on repairing cracks, potholes and bridge decks before resurfacing this 20 mile stretch later this summer. This work is expected to last through September.
Drivers and cyclists hoping to use SR 20 between Twisp and Omak will need to add a lengthy detour to their trip via SR 153. SR 20 west of Loup Loup Summit is closed due to washouts, mudslides and road repair work. Crews are working to repair the area, but there is currently no estimate for reopening.
How long will this stretch of highway be open?
WSDOT crews will keep the North Cascades Highway open as long as it is safe to do so. The gates will close at mileposts 134 and 171 when snow starts filling up avalanche chutes, making it unsafe for travelers and crews to be on the road. That usually happens around Thanksgiving.