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Retaining wall on road at Artist Point (September 29, 2020). Photo: WSDOT via Flickr

Road to Artist Point reopened for the first time this year

GLACIER, Wash. — The final 2-mile stretch of the Mount Baker Highway (SR542) to Artist Point reopened to non-oversized vehicles today, Tuesday, August 17th.

This section of road has been closed to all but pedestrian traffic since it was determined last fall the roadway was being undermined due to a crumbling support wall. The wall is located above the Heather Meadows Visitor Center, Chain Lakes Loop trailhead and Austin Pass Picnic area.

Today’s announcement said temporary repairs to the wall have been completed.

In October 2020, 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.

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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. This summer contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation worked to temporarily stabilize the slope and wall until funding becomes available for permanent repair work.

Washington State Department of Transportation (August 17, 2021)

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