As spring arrives, 10-m-tall walls of snow are carved out on the Trans-Shiretoko Highway 

Snow removal work is underway on the Trans-Shiretoko Highway (National Highway Route 334, 23.8 km), which has been closed for the winter between the town of Rausu in eastern Hokkaido and the town of Shari in the Okhotsk region. On April 12, members of the press were invited to view the snow removal work being carried out.

 The road has been closed since November 8 last year, and the development and construction departments of both the Kushiro and Abashiri subprefectures began removing snow on March 3. On that day, several excavators cut through the snow on both sides of the road, and snowplows were then used to blow the snow away from the road.
 
According to the Kushiro Development and Construction Department, this year’s snowfall was heavy and the accumulated snow was hard. At a point 1.5-km up the Shiretoko Pass on the Rausu side, the roadside wall of snow was 10.4 meters tall, approximately three times higher than last year. The rate of progress of snow removal is said to be approximately 60% on the Rausu side and 50% on the Shari side. Snow clearing, road widening and removal of overhanging snow on a 1.1 km stretch of road near the summit of the pass still remains to be completed, but the road is expected to be open to traffic before the start of the major holiday period (from April 29). “There are many tourists waiting for the opening. We want to carry out the work to enable the road to be opened as soon as possible,” said a Development and Construction Department director.

A rotary snowplow blows away the snow cut away by excavators on the Trans-Shiretoko Highway

Location

Trans-Shiretoko Highway

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