[do action=”custom_iframe” url=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/13875231744/in/set-72157642267729715/player/” width=”630″ height=”500″ scrolling=””/]Washington highway workers reopened the North Cascades Highway at noon Thursday for the summer travel season.
On Monday the crews were still 3.5 miles apart, but they delivered on their hope to reopen the highway the day before the annual Winthrop 49er Days festival begins.
Washington State Department of Transportation photos in the Flickr link above document how crews have been digging and scraping with plows and other heavy equipment for almost six weeks (point and scroll to see more images).
When they tackled the project March 31, snow at the summit of Washington Pass, elevation 5,477 feet, measured almost 10 feet, double the depth of last year. Snow on the highway below the Liberty Bell avalanche chutes averaged 35 feet deep. The highway closed for the winter on Dec. 3.
The highway, State Route 20, traverses North Cascades National Park and provides a scenic route to Winthrop and the Methow Valley. It is closed each winter when weather, snow conditions and avalanche danger threaten the safety of drivers and maintenance crews. Avalanches typically close the highway between late November and mid-December. Reopening in the spring is usually accomplished by early May.