DATE: 1/15/09

For Immediate Release

Contact: Lee Taylor 360-569-2211 ext. 3303
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Mount Rainier’s primary winter access route will reopen Saturday after
being closed for several weeks by avalanche danger and storm damage. Heavy
rain last week resulted in a land slide that took out one lane of the road
for a distance of 100 feet. A Federal Highway Administration engineer
inspected the remaining lane on Tuesday and determined it safe for use.
We’ll have flaggers on the road to control travel through the damaged
area , said Acting Park Superintendent Randy King. Visitors can
anticipate very little wait time to get through the one-lane section.
Weather permitting, the road from Longmire to Paradise will be open on
weekends and holidays throughout the winter, but will be closed during the
week, at least in the near term. We don’t have the staff necessary to
provide safe access through the damaged section during the week. Our
initial focus is on providing access for winter recreation on weekends when
we can be very busy, said King. We’ll continue to explore options for
safe weekday travel to Paradise. < /p>

Weekday visitors may travel as far as Longmire, where there is a visitor
center, hotel with dining room, restrooms, and access to several trails.
There are also several feet of snow on the ground. The West Side Road,
just inside the park entrance, also offers cross country skiers and
snowshoers several miles of terrain for excursions. Information on
recreational opportunities and events in the communities and road corridors
around the park can be found at< /p>

Road repair will have to wait until late spring, due to the risk posed by
doing construction work in this avalanche-prone zone. The work will last
several weeks, and may delay traffic but will not close the road. We’re
just glad we were left with one usable lane and people will still be able
to get to Paradise to play in the snow this winter , said King. < /p>