Paul Murchison, director of the Yukon government’s transportation engineering branch, talks to media about the cancellation of the Dawson City ice bridge project during a press conference in Whitehorse on Jan. 31, 2019. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Hopes melt for ice bridge at Dawson City, Yukon, as territory ends project

Yukon government pulls out after snowcat sinks

The Yukon government is pulling out of a project to build an ice bridge across the Yukon River that would have provided a winter-time connection between Dawson City and the little suburb of West Dawson.

A snowcat broke through the ice bridge and sank last month while it was under construction.

Paul Murchison, director the Highways Department’s transportation engineering branch, says the territory has already spent about three quarters of the $200,000 budgeted for the project and had to consider the value of the estimated two-month lifespan of the bridge with the cost of constructing it.

He says successful completion depends on factors that are out of the government’s control, including river hydraulics, ice conditions, water and air temperature.

Ice bridges at Dawson City have always formed naturally as the Yukon River freezes, allowing about 100 residents of West Dawson to drive between the two communities, but ice has not formed as usual for the last several years.

A homemade ice foot bridge allows pedestrians to reach work and shops in the community, but emergency vehicles can’t access West Dawson until a government-run ferry resumes after breakup.

The contractor hired to build the ice bridge will now begin removing equipment and cleaning up.

“I expect it will be a little bit of money as far as demobilizing from the site so if there is a little bit of money left over, it won’t be spent,” Murchison says of the $50,000 remaining in the project budget.

A permanent bridge has not been discussed and probably won’t get future consideration, he says.

At a meeting in August, residents speculated that a growing gravel bar in the river north of Dawson City traps ice and forms a choke point there, rather than at the usual point between Dawson and West Dawson, where the river slightly bends and narrows.

The Yukon government unsuccessfully tried to apply what it called an “ice Band-Aid” over the open water at Dawson last winter by spraying ice water to try and encourage ice formation.

The contractor this year used booms to do that and the plan seemed to be working, with a 45-centimetre-thick slab of ice forming. But work was halted when the snowcat unexpectedly shattered the slab while clearing snow off it in January.

No one was hurt but the heavy equipment remains at the bottom of the river, although efforts will be made to retrieve it. (CKRW)

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend about 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

100 Mile RCMP seek help in stolen credit card case

Card was used at multiple locations in 100 Mile House

Graduates invited to participate in free, mini photo shoots May 27-28

The Williams Lake Dry Grad Committee is promoting an all inclusive, mini photo shoot

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Williams Lake Tribune continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

COVID-19 checkpoints ‘up to them,’ Bonnie Henry says of remote B.C. villages

Support local tourism economy, but only if you’re invited in

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Eight people arrested in Victoria homeless camp after enforcement order issued

Those living in tents were given until May 20 to move indoors

Andrew Weaver says he was ready to defeat John Horgan government

Independent MLA blasts B.C. Greens over LNG opposition

44% fewer passengers flew on Canadian airlines in March 2020 than in 2019

COVID-19 pandemic has hit airlines hard as travel remains low

Commercial rent relief applications open as feds encourage landlords to apply

Program would see government cover 50 per cent of the rent

Most Read