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.

Just Posted

Blaze consumes dwelling in Masset

The Masset Fire Department received the first call around 8 p.m.

All Nations Driving Academy gets $360K boost from province

Terrace-based driving school bridges gap in services for remote northwest B.C. communities

Skeena Watershed reopened for recreational pink and coho

Four sections and tributaries remain closed

Skeena-Bulkley Valley candidates react to finding Trudeau broke ethics law

The election campaign is heating up before the writ has even dropped

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Toronto activist calling on federal parties to nominate more black candidates

Fewer than 20 black Canadians have been nominated so far, including some Liberal MPs seeking re-election

Most Read