Crews expect to open the highway in time for fishing season
WINTHROP – Crews expect to swing open the winter closure gates to State Route 20, the North Cascades Highway, at 11 a.m. Friday, April 22. That is a week earlier than predicted when the clearing work began on St. Patrick’s Day.
Washington State Department of Transportation crews began clearing the North Cascades Highway five weeks ago on March 17.
The mid-morning reopening allows the crew time to sweep the entire 37-mile winter closure zone for sand, rocks and debris, clear any snow from below avalanche chutes, and apply sand or deicer as needed.
By Wednesday the crews had cleared the last seven miles of highway separating at the end of week 4. Warm temperatures sped the clearing and allowed for successful avalanche control to clear the chutes that still held snow so the highway can be safely opened.
“We all live up here and know it’s important for local businesses to have the highway open for the lowland fishing season and ‘49er Days Festival in Winthrop,” said Don Becker, WSDOT maintenance supervisor.
Last year it took crews only three weeks and it opened April 3. There was only one year, 1977, when the highway never closed, due to a drought. The earliest opening was March 10, 2005.
For more information, including a history of opening and closing dates, maps, photos and progress reports on the 2016 opening, visit the North Cascades web page: