Local Information

Thanks to extra effort by crews, Artist Point opening on June 29 – earlier than expected

Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 15:57

Andrea Petrich, Communications, 360-757-5963

Fourth of July travelers will be able to reach the end of SR 542

Crews are working seven days a week to clear the road to Artist point

MOUNT BAKER – State Route 542/Mount Baker Highway to Artist Point will reopen by 5 p.m. Thursday, June 29 – thanks to hard-working crews putting in seven-day weeks on the seasonal stretch of highway.

Without willingness of the Washington State Department of Transportation crews to work the long weeks, this opening would still be weeks away. Dozens of feet of snow fell on this stretch of highway over the winter months. While there were a few sunny days, weather conditions in the last month have been challenging. The maintenance team spent most days working in thick fog, rain and even snow to clear the final 2.7 miles of Mount Baker Highway.

“The last time I saw this much snow was in 1999, when we couldn’t even open the road,” said WSDOT Maintenance Supervisor, Bill Joyce. “We had a lot of snow this year too, but the real challenge was the wind which created drifts more than 70 feet deep in some areas.”

The clearing process

Due to the high snow levels, WSDOT has had up to five employees working each day to get this stretch of highway reopened as quickly as possible. Their process includes:

  • Three bulldozers knocking snow levels down – there is still nearly 40 feet of snow in some areas.
  • Two snow blowers then clearing the remaining 5 to 6 feet of snow off the highway.
  • A loader pre-emptively knocking down some of the towering snow walls along the highway so they don’t fall naturally as temperatures warm.

Before the highway reopens to vehicle traffic, crews need to repair pavement and reinstall road signs that are removed each season. While crews finish up this work, back country adventurers, hikers and cyclists should avoid accessing this area through the closed gate. Heavy machinery and vehicles are moving through this work zone during daylight hours.

About Artist Point
The final 2.7 miles of Mount Baker Highway closes each winter and is used by the Mount Baker Ski Area as part of its terrain. An average of 600 vehicles a day visit this stretch of highway once it is open for the summer season.

Other SR 542 work – know before you go
People heading up to Artist Point should plan for brief delays as crews build a new bridge over Hedrick Creek, west of Glacier at milepost 32.

  •  A single lane bypass is in place through this work zone.
  • A stop light will alternate traffic.
  • The speed limit is reduced to 25 mph.
  • The bypass will be in place through October.

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