Favorable Weather and Hard Work favors Crews

Information and photos courtesy of WSDOT Newsletter

The second week of clearing work continues to move along at a steady pace, due to low snow pack, favorable weather conditions and the hard work of the dedicated crews clearing the way.  Crews from both sides cleared over nine more miles of highway this week, past Granite Creek Bridge on the west side, and through Cutthroat Ridge to the Liberty Bell slide chutes on the east side.

Above the gates on the west side, the crew worked through about almost two feet of snow on the pavement, to clear shoulder to shoulder for about 7 miles with the centerline cut almost to the Easy Pass trailhead. You never know what you’ll find in the snow – this week, Jim found a broken down snow mobile that was left on the highway. He carefully removed the snow from around it and moved the snow mobile to a safe place on the shoulder. The eastside crew has made it through Cutthroat Ridge to the largest slide chutes (known as LB #1, LB #2, and LB #3), just short of the summit of Washington Pass.  The eastside crew also continued to address danger trees and boulders encountered during clearing work.

As the new kid on the team, I was invited to get up close and personal on the eastside clearing and am amazed at what is accomplished up there.  The crew makes it look simple, but the work requires a deft and experienced hand.  The way the snow cat, loader and snow blower worked together to take down the first big slide at LB #1 is really a sight to see.

The permanent closure gates will remain in place until the reopening work is complete.  The highway behind the gates will remain closed Monday through Thursday while crews are actively working, but you can still take advantage of journeying behind the gate on snowmobile, ski, snowshoe or bike above the gates Friday through Sunday.  I met a bicyclist and an intrepid jogger on my visit this week. Use caution this weekend as there’s rain, some snow, some ice – all forecast through Sunday.  As always be sure to check in on back country avalanche conditions before any mountain adventure.

As far as week two, Superintendent Don Becker’s summation is, “Spring keeps us busy.”  I would most definitely agree.

We’re not through yet, so more to come next week!

This newsletter from WSDOT provides regular updates from Lauren, Jeff and Frances