iceroad

Mild weather delayed the opening of Manitoba's winter road system and is now causing them to close early. ((CBC))

A warmer-than-usual winter and deteriorating ice conditions have prompted the Manitoba government to close its winter road system as of midnight Monday.

The road system closes when it becomes unsafe for travel because ground and ice conditions are no longer able to support all vehicles, the province said in a statement.

Warm weather early in the season already delayed construction of the roads, which span 2,200 kilometres of muskeg, lakes, rivers and creeks, connecting the northern and southern parts of the province.

Even roads that opened last month had weight restrictions and the province warned users they could be closed for repairs at short notice. About half of Manitoba's winter roads opened by Feb. 1, while the rest opened on Feb. 12.

Usually, the roads would be open for eight weeks over the season, the province said. Late last week, aboriginal leaders called on the federal government to fund the air lifting of essential goods to remote communities that usually would have been delivered by trucks.

On Monday, Infrastructure Minister Steve Ashton, echoed the call for federal air freight funding.