Warmer weather shouldn’t impact Dettah ice road opening

Dettah ice road
The project would replace the ice road with an all-season, two-lane, gravel road. File photo.
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Despite milder weather in Yellowknife this month, the Dettah ice road is slated to open around its usual time.

According to the territorial department of transportation, the 15-year average for opening the ice road is December 21. Last year the route opened slightly earlier – on December 19.

On Monday, department officials will begin work on the road, shooting for an opening sometime between December 21 and December 25.

“We’re going to go out and prepare the approaches on the ramps on the Yellowknife side and the Dettah side,” said Del Miller, regional manager of highway operations.

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“On the Dettah side along the shoreline there’s a fair ridge of ice that we have to remove. Hopefully, weather permitting, on Tuesday we can start profiling.”

When it comes to profiling, Miller says the department uses an amphibious ATV with ground-penetrating radar to determine ice thickness.

“To do that we’re going to need about 20 centimeters or eight inches of ice to continue profiling for safety reasons,” he said.

“Once we’re finished profiling, we need 37 centimeters or 14.5 inches of ice before we can go out there with our light snowplows and start plowing.”

Miller estimates crews will only need two or three days to get the route prepared for public once snowplows can get out there.

“We’re anticipating it being at least another week and a half, maybe two weeks [from Friday, December 11] before we can open the ice road to the public.

“It just depends on what we get for ice thickness when we start profiling out there.”

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