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Mudslides Close North Cascades Highway Until Weekend At Least

WSDOT. This is one of eight mudslides across SR 20, the North Cascades Highway.

Washington's Department of Transportation (WSDOT) doesn't know yet what day the North Cascades Highway will reopen. Intense thunderstorms over the weekend unleashed eight mudslides that have closed the northernmost route across the Cascade Range.

WSDOT spokesman Jeff Adamson says optimism is rising now that big bulldozers and other heavy equipment has arrived. He says his agency awarded an emergency contract last night (Mon.) to get more muscle on scene.

"One of these eight slides is a quarter mile long and it's got 25 feet of mud, trees and boulders across two lanes of highway," says Adamson. "That's just not something you attack with a five-yard loader and a dump truck."

Adamson says they'd like to reopen Highway 20 by this weekend but it could take until next week. The highway is closed from just past the Diablo Lake overlook on the west side to Rainy Pass. Adamson says trailheads at Rainy Pass and the Pacific Crest Trail are accessible from the east.

About 65 hikers who were stranded at a trailhead by a separate washout in North Cascades National Park got out late Monday. The park service says foot traffic can travel the temporarily repaired gravel road to Cascade Pass now, but not cars for the time being.

On the Web:

SR 20: North Cascades Highway status - WSDOT 

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.