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North Cascades Highway to reopen Friday

Brian Mount operates an excavator and clears out a rock fall catch areas just west of the Whatcom/Skagit line on State Route 20, also known as the North Cascades Highway, on March 30, 2016.
Brian Mount operates an excavator and clears out a rock fall catch areas just west of the Whatcom/Skagit line on State Route 20, also known as the North Cascades Highway, on March 30, 2016. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

The North Cascades Highway will reopen at 11 a.m. on Friday, a week earlier than predicted when the snow clearing work began last month.

Washington state Department of Transportation crews began clearing State Route 20, a portion of which cuts through eastern Whatcom County. on March 17.

The mid-morning reopening allows 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 deicer as needed.

Last year it took crews only three weeks to clear the highway and it opened April 3. There was only one year, 1977, when the highway never closed, due to a drought. The earliest opening was March 10, 2005.

For more information, including a history of opening and closing dates, maps, photos and progress reports on the 2016 opening, visit the North Cascades web page at wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/passes/northcascades.

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