The North Cascades Highway will open 11 a.m. Tuesday. In March, the state had warned that Highway 20 might be closed into June.

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Rarely does it hurt to dampen expectations.

In March, the Washington State Department of Transportation warned that North Cascades Highway (Highway 20) might remain shuttered into June.

Avalanche chutes were still loaded with snow, and as much as 45 feet of snow was on the road in some places, the agency said.

Then, Thursday, the agency delivered some sweet relief for travelers: It plans to open the highway Tuesday at 11 a.m.

WSDOT spokesman Jeff Adamson credited recent rains and rising temperatures for softening the snow and pushing up the state’s schedule.

“At the outset, it seemed like winter would never end,” Adamson said. The last stretch of clearing, which was expected to take days, took mere hours.

“The weather and the rain turned that last 3 miles into butter,” Adamson said.

Road workers were also able to churn through pavement repairs. That means crews won’t be working overtime this weekend. The road will be free of snow, free of cars and free of workers.

But cyclists and other recreationalists can access the roadway.

“If you’re on a bike and you want to go over the North Cascades this weekend, it’s all yours,” he said.