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Friday, April 01, 2011
Summer Derrey, WSDOT Communications, 509-577-1943 (Chinook)
Kris Olsen, WSDOT Communications, 206-440-4475 (Cayuse)
5/2/2011 UPDATE: Late spring snowfall is slowing pass clearing work. Crews hope to have Cayuse Pass opened later this month.
MOUNT RAINIER – Spring has officially arrived and maintenance crews are getting Chinook and Cayuse passes ready for summer travel. In March crews began using plows and snow blowers to clear away snow that is 14 feet deep and debris that has accumulated on State Route 123 Cayuse Pass. Next week crews will begin clearing snow that is 18 feet deep from SR 410 Chinook Pass. Both passes closed for the season in November.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) hopes to reopen Cayuse Pass (elev. 4,675 ft.) by mid-April and Chinook Pass (elev. 5,430 ft.) by Memorial Day weekend. Westside maintenance crews from Greenwater will clear Cayuse Pass and then begin working their way east on SR 410 toward Chinook Pass, to eventually meet up with the eastside crew from Rimrock. Weather can change quickly at these high elevation passes and heavy spring snow storms can bring clearing efforts to a halt.
Every fall, WSDOT closes Chinook and Cayuse passes due to high avalanche risk and hazardous conditions. Numerous slide areas on both passes pose significant danger to WSDOT maintenance crews, park staff and backcountry recreationalists.
For information on SR 123 Cayuse Pass, visit:
For information on SR 410 Chinook Pass, visit:
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