Heavy snow this winter will delay the opening of the North Cascades Highway until June, state Department of Transportation officials said.
Road crews have been clearing snow on the highway, also known as state Route 20, for more than three weeks, according to WSDOT’s webpage on the project. But the work might take as many as eight weeks total, which would be the latest opening of the seasonal highway since June 14, 1974.
The scenic highway stretches from the Olympic Peninsula to the Idaho state line, but the 35- to 40-mile portion over the North Cascades is typically closed between late November and mid-December, and usually opens by early May.
The highway has been closed to vehicle traffic since Nov. 21, 2016. While the road clearing work is being done, skiers and bicyclists are allowed past the gates only on Fridays through Sundays.
Crews begin work on both sides of the pass and were about nine miles apart as of Tuesday. But the snow is up to 25 feet deep in spots and avalanches and snowslides remain a concern.
The highway’s closure especially impacts Methow Valley area residents who need to prepare for the lowland fishing season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.