The North Cascades Highway will reopen Tuesday (May 16), weeks ahead of schedule.
State Route 20 typically opens the first weekend in May, but this year officials initially estimated it might not be until mid-June because there was so much snow.
“Luckily, in the end, the weather was finally on our side,” said Don Becker, a maintenance supervisor with the state Department of Transportation.
Higher temperatures, warm rain and the occasional bit of sunshine helped melt snow on the highway, which connects Skagit and Okanogan counties.
This is the third latest time state Route 20 has ever reopened. The latest was June 14, 1974.
Crews from the east and west sides of state Route 20 began working April 10 to remove 25 feet of snow piled along the highway. Workers also repaired pavement, signs and guardrails.
The Transportation Department said it’s usually eight weeks of work, but this year’s crews pulled it off in six weeks so people would have access by Memorial Day weekend.
The highway will open to traffic 11 a.m. Tuesday. It will remain open until the fall, when avalanche chutes above the highway become too dangerous. That usually happens around Thanksgiving.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653