SR 20 North Cascades Highway clearing starts March 23

WASHINGTON PASS – After assessing snow levels in dozens of avalanche chutes, some stretching more than 2,000 feet above the highway, Washington State Department of Transportation crews will start clearing the State Route 20 North Cascades Highway Monday, March 23.

Once cleared of snow, this highway gives travelers another east-west travel route across the Cascades and opens access to additional hiking and viewpoints in North Cascades National Park.

Safety first:
On Tuesday, March 10, WSDOT’s avalanche control team analyzed the snow pack and studied the extended forecast to determine a safe time to begin clearing the snow-covered highway. The avalanche team, with Mazama the Avalanche Rescue Goat, will monitor conditions during the clearing process.

The clearing process:
WSDOT crews will start snow clearing near Early Winters on the east side Monday, March 23, and near Diablo on the west side Monday, March 30. The east and west teams will clear the highway Mondays through Thursdays until they meet. Spring snow can delay or extend clearing, which usually takes about six weeks. Check the weekly clearing process on the WSDOT website.

Following snow clearing, crews will clear ditches of winter debris and replace and repair guardrail before reopening the highway.

People who want to use the closed section of road for recreation can do so Friday through Sunday when WSDOT crews are not working. For your safety, please follow road closed and local traffic only signs when posted.

Highway history:
A section of SR 20 North Cascades Highway between mileposts 130 and 177 closes each winter due to avalanche risk. Crews reopen this northernmost route across the Washington Cascades each spring to offer people traveling an additional path across the mountains, provide access to dozens of hiking trails and connect a 400-mile Cascade Loop.

Opening and closing dates depend on the weather but the highway usually opens by mid-May and closes around Thanksgiving.

Andrea E. Petrich, communications, Burlington, 360-757-5963
Lauren Loebsack, communications, Wenatchee, 509-667-2815

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