Local Information

Crews working seven days a week to clear road to Artist Point

Wednesday, June 7, 2017 - 16:49

Contacts: Andrea Petrich, communications, 360-757-5963

Great ski season means lots of work to open final stretch of SR 542

MOUNT BAKER – It’s going to be a bit longer before outdoor enthusiasts are able to once again enjoy one of the state’s most scenic drives and most breathtaking recreation spots.

Dozens of feet of snow still sit atop the Artist Point parking lot at the end of State Route 542. Crews continue working every day to clear the final 2.7-mile stretch, but they don’t yet have an estimate for when they’ll be able to open it.

“It’s a big job this year but the team enjoys a challenge,” said Washington State Department of Transportation Maintenance Supervisor Bill Joyce. “We look forward to the opening of this beautiful stretch as much as anybody. But it’s going to be a lot of work, so we appreciate everyone’s patience.”

Mount Baker Ski Area uses part of the road to Artist Point each winter for some of its runs. The resort saw 808 inches of snowfall this season, the most in North America. More than 40 feet of snow still sit on top of some areas of Mount Baker Highway.

To clear what hasn’t melted, crews are using three bulldozers and a massive snow-blower powered by a minimum of four members of WSDOT’s maintenance team.

WSDOT needs everyone to avoid the area near the highway during the clearing process. For those planning backcountry activities in the Mount Baker area, WSDOT strongly advises avoiding the road to Artist Point during daylight hours.

Why clear it at all?

The closed section of road starts at milepost 54.55 near Bagley Lakes Trailhead. The state Legislature funded the construction of Mount Baker Highway with the expectation that it would be a benefit to the entire state, which is why crews clear it each year.

Nearly 12,000 visitors stop by the Heather Meadows Visitors Center at milepost 55 each year, an average of 150 per day during the short time it is open.

Other construction activities

Travelers should also be aware of a work zone west of Glacier. Strider Construction crews are building a bridge deck over Hedrick Creek at milepost 32 as part of a fish-passage project. One lane of the highway will remain closed until October to allow them to work safely. Crews will eventually detour traffic onto a bypass lane north of the highway and reduce the speed limit through the area to 25 mph.

Stay updated

WSDOT will share photos of the clearing process on Flickr and make updates via social media, subscribed email lists and through the WSDOT website once crews determine when they will be able to safely open the road.

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