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Mudslides Keep North Cascades Highway Closed


Washington's Department of Transportation doesn't know yet what day the North Cascades Highway will reopen. Intense thunderstorms over the weekend unleashed eight mudslides that have closed the northernmost route across the Cascade Range.

WSDOT spokesman Jeff Adamson says optimism is rising now that big bulldozers and other heavy equipment has arrived. He says his agency awarded an emergency contract Monday night to get more muscle on scene.

"One of these eight slides is a quarter-mile long and it's got 25 feet of mud, trees and boulders across two lanes of highway. That's just not something you attack with a 5-yard loader and a dump truck," he said.

Adamson added WSDOT would like to reopen Highway 20 by this weekend but it could take until next week. 

The highway is closed from just past the Diablo Lake overlook on the west side to Rainy Pass. Adamson said trailheads at Rainy Pass and the Pacific Crest Trail are accessible from the east. 

About 65 hikers who were stranded at a trailhead by a separate mudslide in North Cascades National Park got out late Monday. The park service says foot traffic can travel the temporarily repaired gravel road to Cascade Pass now, but not cars for the time being.

Correspondent Tom Banse is an Olympia-based reporter with more than three decades of experience covering Washington and Oregon state government, public policy, business and breaking news stories. Most of his career was spent with public radio's Northwest News Network, but now in semi-retirement his work is appearing on other outlets.