Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Dan Davidson

MAIDEN BRIDGE BARRICADED – The flagging marks the do it yourself trail across the Yukon River in Dawson City. The new official trail, just to the north, will also be flagged.

Image title

Photo by Dan Davidson

MAXIMUM WEIGHT POSTED – The weight on the Big Ice bridge in Dawson City is more than five times what it was on the do it yourself trail. This morning, however, the Yukon government used the figure of 40,000 kilograms as a weight limit.

Ice bridge enters wider, thicker phase

The ice bridge that connects downtown Dawson with the residents across the Yukon River has entered its fully functional phase.

By Dan Davidson on January 22, 2020

DAWSON CITY – The ice bridge that connects downtown Dawson with the residents across the Yukon River has entered its fully functional phase.

The first phase was the DIY (do it yourself) trail, which locals began to use on foot and with light vehicles about four days after the river ice stopped moving on Remembrance Day.

This event took most people by surprise after three winters of that traditional ferry landing to ferry landing route failing to freeze.

The Yukon government’s contractor, Big Ice, was hired to improve that early route and did so over the next several weeks.

The result is that this trail, with a maximum load capacity of 5,000 kg, was declared officially open on Dec. 23.

What had begun as a route for walkers, snow machines and ATVs was carrying light vehicles by the end of November.

The next part of the process, as explained by Jim Regimbal, the north area supervisor at the Department of Highways and Public Works, was to have Big Ice create a wider, thicker route.

It was planned to eventually be 100 cm or 40 inches thick and be able to support 35,000 kg, allowing larger vehicles to cross the river.

Regimbal confirmed Tuesday that this route is now open for use and should be the preferred crossing, the original trail having been barricaded at both ends.

On this day, it had been dusted with some new fallen snow, the side effect of Dawson emerging from nearly two weeks of being in a -36 to -47 C deep freeze.

By that evening, it was a mere minus 19, and snow had been wafting down much of the day.

For its inaugural traffic, the maximum weight has been increased to 27,000 kg.

Drivers are enjoined to drive no faster than 15 km/h or 10 m.p.h. to avoid creating pressure waves below the ice that could weaken it. They are also instructed to spread out, keeping 200 metres between vehicles.

Regimbal agrees that it’s nice to have the ice bridge back in service after three years of unofficial and much longer DIY crossings.

The situation was updated this morning, when the Yukon government announced the 40-metre-wide lane is suitable for vehicles and loads up to 40,000 kilograms – a higher figure than what locals are promoting.

It has been certified as safe for use by Associated Engineering’s NOR-EX and Big Ice, the government said in a statement.

They have also provided ice training to the maintenance crew in Dawson, who will continue to maintain the crossing into the spring.

“The Dawson City ice bridge is now fully functional for both light and heavy traffic,” said Richard Mostyn, the minister of Highways and Public Works.

“I want to thank the contractors for their great work on the bridge and residents of Dawson City for their patience through the process.”

Vehicles crossing the ice bridge should travel in the centre of their designated lane, without stopping or parking on the ice bridge, the government added.

“This marks the first time since the winter of 2015-16 that a certified crossing has been completed at the traditional location,” the statement said.

Comments (10)

Up 4 Down 3

Mick on Jan 27, 2020 at 12:25 pm

@ Donovan
Take a Civics course bro, you are speaking absolute nonsense. The PM ha nothing to do with this. Also what is WTG? YG as in Yukon government?

Up 7 Down 3

Donovan on Jan 27, 2020 at 7:53 am

@Max Mack....The people of West Dawson NEVER maintained the ice bridge. It has for the last 30+ years fallen into the capable hands of WTG workers living here in Dawson. The last few years Mother Nature decided to change her patterns. This year she went back to normal.
Only the Liberals would claim victory over mother nature. Only this guberment feels they can outsource the work, to a company from outside the territory, and beat the river at its own game. All why laying off the WTG workers who have done the job for years.
I must not be as good at math as our PM, because he thinks a few local workers on the payroll already will cost less than the $200k he contracted it out for. This guberment believes in contracting out to companies outside the Yukon, rather than keeping their already trained local workers. Ensuring that the local economy suffers with their decisions.

Up 4 Down 0

Mike Grieco on Jan 26, 2020 at 8:39 pm

Thank Mother Nature and the moolah, moolah, too!

Up 11 Down 9

Dawsonite on Jan 24, 2020 at 6:25 pm

@My opinion
Quite the revisionist history there! Pretty impressive, I heard Trump is looking for a few good bullshitters in his PR branch, polish up that resume!

The thing is: There has been no ice bridge for the previous couple winters at all. Neither the YG attempts or the alleged heroes that managed to build a ‘walkable’ one last year were certified by any engineer. That means no heavy equipment (snow removal rigs, fire trucks, ambulances) could use it safely. Don’t kid yourself that some guy with a rope, chainsaw and some branches did any more than what we all know to be true.

Anyone going over the river last year was taking their lives into their own hands.

Up 10 Down 6

JayDangles on Jan 24, 2020 at 1:13 pm

In reference to the article title... perhaps it should read "Dawson Ice bridge Given Erection"
Come on.. that's funny!

Up 19 Down 6

Max Mack on Jan 23, 2020 at 10:11 pm

It used to be that the folks in West Dawson took care of their own ice bridge. When did this become a government responsibility?

Up 19 Down 3

Dave on Jan 23, 2020 at 4:07 pm

@ME & Sheepchaser: It’s called Yukonomics, if you break down the dollars and cents to try and make financial sense out of government spending in this territory your head will explode.

Up 29 Down 6

Miles Epanhauser on Jan 23, 2020 at 12:08 pm

People in west Dawson should fend for themselves. Why are we spending all this money on the counterculture. They do not want a real bridge so let them band together and deal with their own ice bridge.

Up 18 Down 11

My Opinion on Jan 23, 2020 at 12:57 am

So now the Government is going to lecture people on how to build and maintain and use an Icebridge when they were woefully useless at constructing one for the last four years.

Isn’t that Precious.

Up 25 Down 7

SheepChaser on Jan 22, 2020 at 10:36 pm

Thank you mother nature. Let's stop paying contractors top dollar to claim responsibility for the random temperament of powerful natural forces beyond their control.

How many people live in West Dawson? How many thousands of dollars per person are we upside down on their behalf?

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.