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North Cascades Highway snow cleared, open for vehicle travel

Bicyclists had Route 20 to themselves as highway crews cleared snow off the North Cascades Highway.
Bicyclists had Route 20 to themselves as highway crews cleared snow off the North Cascades Highway.

OUTDOOR TRAVEL -- The section of US 20 between Mazama and Diablo -- known as the North Cascades Highway -- has been cleared of snow and is open for the summer season, Washington Department of Transportation officials announced this week.

Work to clear the winter snow from the road got a later-than-normal start on April 3. Crews spent the past five weeks clearing the 37-mile stretch of highway, estimating at first that the work might not be done until June.  The May 16 reopening is the third latest in the highway route's history.

Original estimates called for eight weeks to clear the highway.  crews were able to speed up the process with help from spring rains that melted snow in some areas. Many of the workers live in the area and know how important the road through North Cascades National Park is to the local economy, state officials said.

Hi elevation trails near Washington and Rainy passes are still covered in snow.

Crews cleared more than 45 feet of snow from below Liberty Bell Mountain and more than 20 feet in many other avalanche chute areas.

Opening the highway for the upcoming summer season not only provides drivers another option to cross the Cascades but reconnects U.S. Bike Route 10 between Skagit and Okanogan counties.

The Department of Transportation advises travelers using Highway 20 over the North Cascades to be prepared for quickly changing conditions and limited facilities between Diablo and Mazama.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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