North Cascades Hwy 20 Re-Opening
A 37-mile section of the North Cascades Highway 20 between Newhalem and Mazama closes each winter (usually in mid to late November) until spring (usually mid April to May 1). The Washington State Department of Transportation is responsible for clearing the highway of snow, avalanche danger and repairing any winter damage. It's a fascinating process that defies Mother Nature. Here is a chronicle of the process for those interested in pure winter playgrounds:
See how Washington State DOT clears the highway:
We receive international coverage for our incredibly snowy spring. Check out what the London Daily Mail said.
Check out this interesting article "In Search of the End of the Road" on bicycling the North Cascades Highway beyond the closure gates where it has already been cleared of snow! And view all the clearing photos.
For the second year in a row the WSDOT newsletter following the clearing of the North Cascades Highway 20 has won an award. Part of their success is due to the wonderful photos they share with us. Here are the most viewed photos from this year's effort and some statistics on their outreach:
We wanted to let you all know that you’re responsible for an award-winning public outreach effort. Last week, Jeff and I (on your behalf, of course) received a WSDOT communications Firsts Place Trophy due in large part to this newsletter. We submitted the North Cascades Highway for an award in the category of “Ability to Measure Results,” and, we won!
Some of the statistics we submitted to show measureable results included:
- More than 700,000 views to this year’s Flickr pictures
- More than 80,000 views to our Website in less than 3 months
- More than 1,000 new subscribers to this newsletter in six weeks
- More than 20 different media outlets (TV, print and radio) ran news stories, including one from United Kingdom during the spring opening
It’s hard to fathom what nearly three-quarters of a million views to our pictures truly means. That’s just flat out a lot of views. For fun, I compiled a short list of some of the most-viewed pictures and videos on Flickr this year:
- The hairpin curve – 21,000 views
- From the top of Cutthroat Ridge – 19,000 views
- Snowcat working into Liberty Bell – 18,000 views
- Snow slide blocks highway – 10,000 views
- Momma bear and cubs – 8,000 views
- 75-foot-tall snow wall – 6,000 views
- Firing the howitzer – 6,000 views
- Slide blocks road home – 6,000 views
This is Jeff again – when WSDOT started the North Cascades web page more than a dozen years ago, no one could have suspected what would result from it. Initially it was simply to counter an active rumor mill with a progress map, some text and pictures of the work each week so people would know our crews were working hard, doing difficult, dangerous work to get the highway open as quickly as they could. Today, the average daily traffic count between the winter gate locations is 870 vehicles for the months it’s open, yet there are five times that many of you subscribed to just these e mail updates. Wow!
Now that it’s open, enjoy your trip!
Jeff and Dustin
P.S. This is the second award we’ve won for the North Cascades outreach. Those of you who were with us last year may recall that in 2010 WSDOT received the AASHTO national award for “Best External Newsletter” from the National Transportation Public Affairs Workshop in competition among all 50 state DOTs.
Jeff Adamson, WSDOT Communications
2830 Euclid Ave / P.O. Box 98
Wenatchee, WA 98807-0098
Link to the WSDOT Flickr page: www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/sets/72157626170712679/
Link to Spring Reopening Page: www.wsdot.wa.gov/Traffic/Passes/NorthCascades/updates.htm
Link to the NCH Home page: www.wsdot.wa.gov/Traffic/Passes/NorthCascades/default.htm
North Cascades Significant Dates:
Recent Opening Dates: 4/16/10, 4/24/09, 5/1/08, 4/26/07, 5/1/06, 3/10/05-Earliest ever
Noteworthy Openings: Latest- 6/14/74, Next Latest- 5/21/76, Never closed- 1977
Snow Data: 1/1/11– 4’ Rainy, 5’ WA, 3/1/11– 5’ Rainy, 6’ WA, 4/1/11– 9’ Rainy, 10’ WA
3/17/11 annual assessment trip pictures posted on Flickr www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/sets/72157626170712679/.
For maps, pictures, frequently asked questions and a history of opening dates for the North Cascades Highway, visit the website www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/passes/northcascades/.
Subscribe for reopening e-mail updates here: www.wsdot.wa.gov/emailupdates.