Dave Chesson, WSDOT communications, 360-757-5997
GLACIER – Last winter, the perfect storm of wet snow mixed with high winds wreaked havoc on the Mount Baker Highway, as roughly 175 trees fell or uprooted on Dec. 18, closing the road for three days. This year crews will help reduce the risk of a repeat event by cutting down roughly 100 dead or dying trees.
Starting Monday, Sept 30, crews will close five miles of State Route 542, 8 miles east of Glacier, for a week to fell trees. From 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. each day, WSDOT maintenance and contractor crews will close the road while they work together to remove the trees. Crews expect they can have all the trees cut and cleared by Friday afternoon, Oct. 4.
“By closing the road completely we can safely and quickly remove the trees, and get Artist Point back open for people to enjoy before it closes for the winter,” said Bellingham Maintenance Superintendent Tony Hernandez. “The contractor will have three men working the chain saws and all the help they need to assist in dropping the trees and getting them off the road safely and efficiently.”
As it does each year, WSDOT worked with the US Forest Service to identify trees that were dead or dying and within reach of the highway. Crews will work to cut as many of the trees back into the woods, and push any that fall on the road back into the forest far enough to not be a hazard to drivers. This section of SR 542 runs through the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
“It’s not only a matter of public safety,” said Hernandez. “When we had to clear the road last year we were doing it in harsh winter conditions with limbs and trees cracking and snapping all around us. This is a proactive approach that will help protect drivers and keep our crews safe this winter.”
Drivers should check the Construction Update Report to ensure there aren’t any changes to the schedule before heading to Artist Point.