Despite weather and equipment challenges, crews have opened the highway in time for Winthrop’s ‘49er Days visitors


Workers began the clearing process on State Route 20, the North Cascades Highway, on March 31. This year it took crews nearly six weeks to clear the highway as they pushed snow as deep as 35 feet over the roadway. On average, it takes four to six weeks for crews to ready the highway for travelers.

“We all live up here and know how great it will be for local businesses to have the highway open for the festival,” said Don Becker, WSDOT maintenance supervisor.

The midday reopening allowed the crew time to sweep the entire 37-mile winter closure zone for sand, rocks and debris, clear any snow from below avalanche chutes and apply sand or de-icer as needed.