SR 542, Clearing the road to Artist Point - 2012
July 20, 2012
Road to Artist Point opens Tuesday, July 24.

July 19, 2012
We will open one mile of the highway up to the Heather Meadows Visitor Center on Friday, July 20.

July 18, 2012
We’re working in the upper parking lot at Artist Point and pushing hard to get the road open. We still don’t have a specific reopening date yet, but we are hoping to open the road some time during the week of July 23.

June 21, 2012
Going into it, crews knew they were up against some really deep snow – 20 to 25 deep over the road in most places, and even deeper at the end of the highway. But some schizophrenic weather, equipment troubles and “black holes” have made the task of clearing the road to Artist Point that much more challenging.

“The weather really hasn’t been the most pleasant,” said Theo Donk, WSDOT maintenance supervisor. “We’ve had a little bit of everything, from snow to hail to rain, and even some sun. It’s doable, but it’s definitely not making it easy on us.”

Crews are pushing on despite the weather extremes, and over the last three weeks have been able to clear a little more than a half-mile of the highway.

“We’ve just been pushing, pushing, pushing,” said Donk, with two great-big D8 bulldozers to cut the snow down from 20 to 25 feet deep to about 8 to 10 feet deep over the road. “That way then the snowblower can come through and blow out the remaining snow.”

The snowblower arrived a week after the bulldozers and was put to work immediately. The only problem, though, was that it lasted about 15 minutes before a mechanical issue took it down. The blower had to go to the repair shop and was out of service for several days. It's back in the game now though.

The bulldozers continue to blaze a path through the deep snow. The operators have had to watch carefully for what they call “black holes” – large cavities in the snowpack – which can easily gobble up a bulldozer.

“There was one black hole that did kind of catch us by surprise,” said Donk. “We survived though, and now we know where it is.”

At a mile above sea level, it’s no easy task clearing the road to Artist Point. Crews will continue to put their experience and skills to use and hope to have the road open sometime in July.

Artist Point website:
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