Dettah ice road to open Saturday, nearly 3 weeks late

A crew works on the Dettah ice road in late 2015.
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It’s been a late start for the Dettah ice road, but finally it’s expected to open Saturday, its latest opening since 1999.

RELATED: Dettah ice road unlikely to open before Christmas, says GNWT

“We haven’t seen this in the last 20 years,” said Michael Conway, regional superintendent of the North Slave region with the territory’s Department of Transportation.

“This year we had some very warm weather in November and even into December,” he explained. “The last couple of years, the weather has been extremely warm, and that certainly affects ice growth.”

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In December, Conway told Moose FM the road was unlikely to open before Christmas. The 15-year average opening date has been Dec. 21Last year, it opened on Jan. 2.

“[This year] we went out just before Christmas [to measure ice thickness] and there was significantly less ice than what we require to start construction,” Conway said.

“It actually surprised us how thin the ice was at that time of year.

“The equipment is a lot more sophisticated now and we’re still having a really difficult time trying to build winter roads on the same timelines that we built them in the past.”

On Wednesday, a team went out to measure ice thickness using ground penetrating radar for the second time this season, and finally gave the green light to start construction.

Crews started work Thursday morning, Conway said, and a team will be working hard over the next couple of days to speed up completion.

“We’re hoping to have it open on Saturday,” he said.

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