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Major East-West Route Reopens in Washington

Washington’s North Cascades Highway is open again for travelers wanting to take another scenic route across the state. It’s a later than usual start after an unusually severe winter.

Jeff Adamson from the Department of Transportation says the usual opening date for the North Cascades Highway is May first but persistently bad weather forced that to be postponed. In fact, he says Tuesday’s opening date is the fifth latest on record.
“The prediction was they wouldn’t be able to get the North Cascades open until after Memorial Day into June," Adamson said. "And they all live up there. They know how important that highway is to both the Skagit Valley and the Methow Valley. And they said, no, we’re going to have it open by Memorial Day and they did.”

Adamson says crews took advantage of warmer, wetter weather to accelerate the cleanup of the roadway.

“While it was pretty awful if you were down below, some of the horrible weather events involving lots of rain and some hail, up there it actually helped clear the avalanche chutes that had some snow in them and softened up the snow that was on the roadway to the point that, in one day, they were able to clear the three-and-a-half miles between the west side and the east side,” Adamson said.

So the northernmost route across the Cascades in Washington is again in use, at least until snow forces it to be closed again this fall.

Adamson says there is one area of Highway 20 that is still not open. That’s a 12-mile stretch between Twisp and Omak where nine different areas of the roadway have been damaged.

“There are portions of the roadway that have been washed out that are going to require about 230 feet of fill just to get something up to be able to put a road on again to line up with the road on either side,” he said.

There’s no estimate yet when that area will be reopened. Drivers who want to move through that area are rerouted onto State Route 153.