North Cascades Highway (SR-20) Reopens To All Traffic
After being closed intermittently since late July, State Route 20 (SR-20) has once again fully reopened to all vehicle traffic.
As much as forty miles of the highway from Newhalem to Washington Pass has been shutdown due to two large forest fires which have been burning very close to the road for nearly a month.
Although SR-20 is fully open, a four-mile stretch of the road from the Rainy Pass Picnic Area to the summit of Washington Pass will feature flagger-controlled traffic with a pilot car between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. daily.
"The reason for the pilot car is that, during the day, we still have fire response crews out there doing the work that they need to do," explains Washington State Department of Transportation (DOT) spokesperson Lauren Loebsack. "Sometimes we'll need to hold traffic so that they can do backburning and other fire management activities in that area."
The stretch between mileposts 158 and 162 will remain open at night without a pilot car but will also include a reduced speed limit of 35 mph at all times.
Loebsack says even though the fires are no longer burning close to the highway, drivers should still be alert for the potential hazards that activity might have created.
"There is always the potential when you're driving through a mountain pass that's been affected by wildfire for some rockfall due to unstable slopes. So just reporting that to 9-1-1 and indicating the location if you see anything on the road will be the best way to get that information to our crews to address."
The DOT says the area of SR-20 over the North Cascades is still part of an active fire zone and the roadway is subject to re-closure at any time.