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North Cascades Highway Reopened for the Season


Washington’s North Cascades Highway is open again for travelers wanting another scenic route across the state. The Washington Department of Transportation says the opening of the northern route of Highway 20 comes later than in most years, but earlier than expected this year, due to the severe winter.

Jeff Adamson from the Department of Transportation says the usual opening date for the North Cascades Highway is May first. But the persistent winter forced crews to postpone their preparations to get the roadway ready for traffic again. That deadline kept getting pushed back.

“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 credits nice weather during the last week or two for accelerating the opening. Crews cleared the avalanche chutes above miles of roadway and plowed the pavement from both directions to enable the highway to be cleared.

There is one area of Highway 20 that is still not open. That’s a 12-mile stretch between Twist and Omak where nine different areas of the roadway have been damaged or washed out. Adamson says crews are repairing pavement. In some cases they’re bringing in the dirt to create support so that the road can be rebuilt. There’s no estimate yet when that area will be reopened. Drivers wanting to travel that area can use State Route 153.