The Washington State Department of Transportation continues to work on clearing the North Cascades Highway as a tough winter has them expecting to open the highway no earlier than Memorial Day.
On their website, they posted an update that said they are entering week 3 of the spring reopening work between mileposts 134 and 171. They said clearing may take eight weeks and would be the latest since the highway’s 1974 reopening which was June 14.
The highway is typically closed between late November and mid-December and reopened by early May.
Jeff Adamson is the North Central Region communications manager for WSDOT. He told KREM 2 that the delay in reopening is primarily because winter just would not stop.
Adamson said normally they have the highway open by May 1, including last year where it was reopened by April 22. He said this late opening has a direct effect on those living in Methow Valley area because they are dependent on that road.
Adamson said when the highway is open on time it gives residents in that area a chance to get set up before the lowland fishing season begins.
The harsh winter has left many areas still with plenty of snow as depicted in the photo tweeted by WSDOT on Monday.
Crews clearing SR 20 North Cascades Hwy dig ditch 20-25 ft deep to catch debris coming down before it reaches workers. Also use a spotter. pic.twitter.com/mySmPO4RyC— Washington State DOT (@wsdot) May 1, 2017
Adamson said crews are working to have the highway reopen by Memorial Day, but there are no guarantees as he said they got an inch of new snow in the area Monday morning.
WSDOT has a page dedicated to updates on the clearing. During the clearing, pedestrians (skiers) and bicyclists are prohibited Monday through Thursday, but allowed past the gates Friday through Sunday.