MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — The state Department of Transportation is set to begin clearing Highway 20 over the North Cascades on Monday.

If all goes as planned — and Mother Nature cooperates — the 37 miles of snow-covered highway leading from the Skagit Valley to the Methow Valley should be cleared in four to six weeks, the Skagit Valley Herald reported.

Crews on both the east and west sides of the stretch of highway that is closed over the winter will work to remove about seven feet of snow from the highway. A year ago, the highway was reopened on May 12 while in 2019 the gates swung open April 18. The earliest opening was March 10, 2005.

Crews use specialized equipment to clear the highway, including a large bulldozer and a snow blower. During the work, crews must be attentive to avalanche danger while watching for rocks, tree limbs and other debris that could damage machinery and cause delays in their efforts.

Once the roadway is cleared, crews will begin the process of repairing guardrails, signs and pavement damaged by snow slides.

Hikers, skiers, snowmobilers and others interested in recreation can use the closed section of highway Fridays through Sundays once clearing begins. The roadway, however, will be closed to recreation while crews work Mondays through Thursdays.

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