Local Information

SR 542 to Artist Point remains closed as crews plan for summer repair work on crumbling wall

Thursday, June 10, 2021 - 16:05

Jordan Longacre, communications, 206-573-0528

Work underway to open the road up to Terminal Lake parking lot

GLACIER – Beginning the week of Monday, June 14, geotech engineers will assess the condition of a crumbling wall that forced an early closure of State Route 542/Mount Baker Highway late last fall. This will help determine when the road may fully reopen to Artists Point.

In October, hillside erosion caused a portion of the wall to crumble. The highway closed early, ahead of snowfall, to reduce the risks of an uncontrolled collapse over the winter. At that time, crews removed a section of the wall to keep it from falling on the outdoor recreational areas below. The wall is located at milepost 55.6 and sits above the Heather Meadows Visitor Center, Chain Lakes Loop trailhead and Austin Pass Picnic area.

Erosion below and behind the wall – built in the 1930s – requires extensive rehabilitation, but there is no current funding available for the long-term repairs. Later this summer contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation will return to temporarily stabilize the slope and wall until funding becomes available for permanent repair work.

Maintenance crews are currently clearing snow on SR 542 up to the Terminal Lake parking lot. Once the road is cleared, WSDOT will work with the US Forest Service to move the road closure gate from Heather Meadows parking lot (MP 54.72) to the Terminal Lake lot (MP 55.3), but the rest of the roadway will stay closed for the time being.

It is WSDOT’s goal to re-open the final stretch of SR 542 to Artist Point later this summer, but that depends on the condition of the wall, the amount of snow and the work needed to temporarily stabilize the hillside.

The Road to Artist Point

This stretch of highway, known as the Road to Artist Point, is narrow with sharp curves and steep slopes. Each winter, WSDOT closes it to vehicle traffic to keep travelers safe, while at the same time a portion of the road becomes part of Mt. Baker Ski Area’s terrain.

Typically, during the summer months WSDOT crews start clearing the final 2.7 miles of Mount Baker Highway as well as the Artist Point parking lot.

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