In the midst of the current mild weather, Yukon government staff and contractors began their attempt to build an ice bridge in Dawson City on Tuesday afternoon.
This marks the first time that the government has tried to induce ice formation for the purposes of creating a Yukon River ice bridge to enable West Dawson and Sunnydale residents to access the main townsite.
If the construction is successful and ice and weather conditions are favourable, the government said Tuesday, the bridge may be open to the public in several weeks.
Tetra Tech Canada Inc. is the main contractor working with the government for the $200,000 project.
In previous years, creating a standard ice bridge has cost an estimated $80,000.
“This is the first time we have used this kind of technology in Yukon, and we are excited to see the results,” said Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn.
“If the ice and weather co-operate with us, we will hopefully have a workable ice bridge within weeks.”
He originally announced the plan on Dec. 21, calling it “a Band-Aid across the channel.”
The government is using ice-making equipment, some of it involving the spraying of large amounts of water, that was recently used in the Northwest Territories.
For safety reasons, work is being conducted during daylight only.
West Dawson and Sunnydale residents are crossing the river where it’s frozen south of town, but it’s a crossing that involves 10 to 15 kilometres of travel by foot, dog time, skis or snowmobiles.
A permanent bridge was part of the Yukon Party’s 2002 election campaign platform – an election it won.
The pledge was cancelled in 2005 because of the huge cost it would involve.