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Friday, October 8, 2010

New gates on North Cascades Highway

Hi all,
We just finished up installation of two new closure gates on the North Cascades Highway.  They’re not for use during the winter – those gate locations are determined by elevation, roadway design and lots of other things.  The new gates are there for dealing with a mud or rock slide or possibly even a forest fire during the months the NCH isn’t closed by snow.  (We’ve had several such events over the past few years.)
The rub has been that using the winter closure gates to close the highway in the summer cuts off access to lots of trailheads and campgrounds.
The new gates are on either side of the area west of Rainy Pass where we’ve had those “summer” slides.
The new eastbound gate is at MP 146.75, about 13 miles further east than the winter closure gate at MP 134.  It means that from the west side, you will have access to trailheads at East Creek, Canyon Creek, Panther Creek, Eastbank and Happy Creek.
The new westbound gate is at MP 156.7, just west of Rainy Pass.  From the east side, that opens 14 miles of highway and access to the Washington Pass Overlook and trailheads or campgrounds at Lone Fir, Cutthroat Creek, Blue Lake, Bridge Creek and Rainy Pass.
This has been kind of an “under the radar” effort.  Winthrop city officials wanted it and so did the Forest Service, but they didn’t have any available funding.  WSDOT’s NW region and NC region maintenance administrators scraped together $13,000, which would cover the costs, if we did everything ourselves.
Over the last few weeks, our bridge crew got the materials and built the bases and gates and signs at our shop in Wenatchee.  They installed the bases a couple weeks ago (some of you e mailed asking me what we were doing) and they spent Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, installing the gates and signs. (It takes some time, even in the summer, for the concrete bases to cure, before they’ll support the weight of the gates.)
Here’s the link to the FlickR page where some pictures of the new gates will be posted soon:
There’s also another new feature on the North Cascades web page – A “Frequently Asked Questions” FAQ page.  (Dustin dug through the last couple year’s worth of e-mail that we’ve gotten and produced a page with all the information in one place.)  Check it out – I’ll bet there are questions there that you hadn’t even thought of yet!
Jeff Adamson  (509) 667-2815
PS: Thank you for the many kind e mails regarding the award WSDOT won for this newsletter.

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