North Cascades Highway to reopen this week

May 23, 2011

For nearly six months, western Washingtonians who wanted to drive to Winthrop, Okanagan and other north central Washington locations have had to make an extra-long road trip, sometimes adding hundreds of miles to their journey. And vice-versa.

That will change very soon.

The Washington Transportation Department says road crews expect to reopen the North Cascades Highway (State Route 20) on Wednesday, at noon.

"[We] are really pleased that the highway will be open for Memorial Day,” said Don Becker of WSDOT, quoted in a news release.

Crews started clearing winter snow from the section of Highway 20 on April 11th.

The opening is later than usual this year because of the heavy snowpack. It's the second latest reopening ever for the highway, which first opened 39 years ago. (The latest was June 14, 1974.)

Last year the North Cascades Highway reopened on April 16. It was closed by snow on Dec. 1.

Below, D.O.T. workers have a blast on the job, firing a howitzer for avalanche control: