Despite weather and equipment challenges, crews opened the highway in time for Winthrop’s ‘49er Days visitors.
With Washington State Department of Transportation crews and the drivers waiting at the gates, celebrated at noon Thursday, May 8, as the North Cascades Highway reopened just a day before the annual ‘49er Days Celebration in Winthrop.
Crews began the clearing process on State Route 20, the North Cascades Highway, on March 31. This year it took crews nearly six weeks to clear the highway as they cleared snow as deep as 35 feet over the roadway. On average, it takes four to six weeks for crews to clear the highway.
“We all live up here and know how great it will be for local businesses to have the highway open for the festival,” said Don Becker, WSDOT Maintenance Supervisor.
The mid-day reopening allowed 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.
For more information, including a history of opening and closing dates, maps, photos and progress reports on the 2014 opening, visit the North Cascades web page: