As temperatures across the state plunge to what seem like arctic levels, maintenance crews are faced with some unique challenges in their quest to keep the roads drivable. On SR 20, just east of Newhalem, crews battle giant icicles. Seriously.
If you drive SR 20 during the summer, you may not think much of the water that seeps through the rock as you pass through the tunnels east of Newhalem. But in the winter, when the weather drops below freezing, that water can become a hazard for drivers. The icicles that form on the walls and ceiling can get so large that they nearly impede traffic. And the constant dripping of water onto the road creates several icy patches.
Our maintenance crews are up in the area several times a week during cold weather, making sure the icicles don’t grow too large and placing deicer and sand on the road to keep it safe for drivers.