After days of closure, Chief Joseph Scenic Highway reopens

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Wyo. Highway 296 (Chief Joseph Scenic Highway) reopened about 6 p.m. Wednesday; it had been closed since Saturday due to snow, blowing snow and drifts during blizzard conditions.

Conditions were so bad that three Wyoming Department of Transportation snowplows and a wrecker got stuck on the highway Saturday night while working to clear drifts; it took a second wrecker to rescue them.

Using a snowblower, WYDOT crews worked on Monday to reopen the 45-mile mountain highway between Wyo. Highway 120 north of Cody and the Beartooth Highway (U.S. Highway 212). They had to start over again Tuesday when the places they had plowed filled in with drifts again Monday night.

“We made it to Sunlight Creek bridge at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, with one lane open. That allowed anyone to travel out of there,” said WYDOT area supervisor Robin Nichols of Basin. “The traffic was one way until about 6 p.m., when both lanes were clear and the road was officially reopened.”

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