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Glacier National Park plows nearing end of Big Drift

| June 3, 2021 12:30 PM

By TERESA BYRD

Hungry Horse News

The Glacier National Park roads crew is in the final stages of plowing Going-to-the-Sun Road.

As of Wednesday morning, crew members using excavators and dozers were nearly three quarters of the way through the Big Drift, a stretch of roadway just east of Logan Pass that sees depths of snow up to 40 feet.

Despite the Big Drift being the last section of snow to be cleared, officials are a way off from declaring an opening date. A myriad of other things need to be done, including removing snow from around the visitor center and restrooms, both of which have sections hemmed in by over eight feet.

On the lower sections of the road the crew is beginning to reinstall removable guard rails. Workers are also clearing the road of rock debris, including a large boulder that smashed into the roadway with enough force to damage the pavement.

Opening the roadway is also dependent on weather conditions which can impede progress, such as this year’s mid-May snowstorm that had crews re-clearing the roadway of another two feet of snow. Conditions that increase spring avalanche probability, which are continuously evaluated, can also limit the sections on which crews can safely work.

“It’s not really up to us when the road opens,” said roads crew work leader Christian Tranel when describing the many factors outside of human control that influence the process.

Having said that, the weather is expected to be largely favorable, with only a slight chance of rain and warm temperatures into the middle of next week.